The latest report from our Global New Products Database from drinks researcher Mintel is dominated by flavour innovations this month, primarily in water and beer. However, there was plenty of new product activity in hot drinks and the smoothie market as well. Read on for your comprehensive review of the top launches around the world.

Nestle Beverage has launched Nescafé Frothé Butterfinger Flavored Coffee Drink Mix, a lowfat treat that retails in the US in an 8.47-fl. oz. plastic canister. Also new in the US is Coffee Bean's Panache Cinnamon Cookie Coffee, said to taste like a snickerdoodle cookie which retails at gourmet stores and on the internet.

Drip-free tea bags are getting more advanced. New in Denmark from Irma are the Earl Grey string tea bags packaged within a triangular paper wrapper. There is a tear-off facility attached to the tea bag string which, once the tea bag is used, serves to pull it back to the paper wrapper without mess or dripping. They are packaged in a triangular paperboard box containing 20 tea bags. Said to be the world's first drip free bags, they are available in a variety of flavours including green tea, orange flavour and tropical tea.

Vanilla seems to be popping up everywhere this month. Making big news was Coca-Cola's announcement to release a Vanilla Coke, to be out in the US in mid-May and to be supported by a major marketing campaign. Adding vanilla to colas, especially Coke, has been a long-enjoyed treat in the US, now it's going to be available pre-mixed.

And for those still wanting to mix their own vanilla drinks, Once in a Blue Moon has released Everlasting Vanilla Vodka Seasoning, once again in the US. This item contains three vanilla beans in a glass bottle, which are then split by the consumer and allowed to soak in vodka for four weeks. The beans can be reused as long as the vodka covers them.

For those with looking for the more convenience orientated product, Hansen's Natural Soda has introduced short can packaging for some of its flavours, including Vanilla Cola and Mandarin Lime. The 8-oz. cans are sold in health stores and supermarkets in the US.

The most colourful drink spotted lately is from Clarus Canadian Springs. Cool Mountain Gourmet Soda features far-out flavours such as Blue Razzberry, Mango, and Honey Frosted Lemonade. The micro-brewed sodas are packaged in a tie-dye swirled case with a Native American in full headgear.

Within the carbonates sector, product innovation has come with the addition of different flavours and tastes to existing brands. This has been especially true for the Fanta brand from Coca-Cola which has seen many new flavour additions in the last couple of years. The latest include Cheeky Lychee in Hong Kong and Grape in New Zealand.

Lemon & cola blends continue to appear from the main players. Pepsi was first with its Pepsi Twist line with a touch of lemon. And Diet Coke with lemon from Coca-Cola followed in the US recently. Now lemon Diet Coke is also appearing in the UK. It is said to be the first time a flavoured variety has been added to the Diet Coke brand in the UK.

And following the lemon theme, the Sunkist brand, better know for its orange flavoured carbonate has been introducing a Lemon Cola variety in Hong Kong.

Coca-Cola, meanwhile, has increased the flavour of its Mr. Pibb brand with the introduction of Pibb Xtra in the US, which has a more intense flavour and less sodium than the original. Mr Pibb, Coke says, will be phased out in areas where Pibb Xtra is on shelf.

Only last month GNPD reported on Müller's entrance to the smoothie market in the UK following a deal with Tropicana. Now, St Ivel, with its Shape brand makes its debut in the low fat, bio yogurt smoothies market. Varieties include Raspberry & Cranberry. Pete & Johnny has meanwhile added organic yogurt-based smoothies to its range. The new Mooothies are available in Strawberry and Mango & Lime flavours.

Health-oriented, fortified waters continue to have an important role to play in the water market - especially in Europe and the US. The latest "health" waters include Balance, which has appeared in Austria from Vöslauer Heilquellen-Verwertung. It comprises a natural mineral water available in two interesting varieties: Rosé and Body. The Rosé line contains pomegranate, hibiscus and red clover and claims to refresh, stimulate and have aphrodisiac qualities. The Body line has grapefruit, star fruit, lemongrass, passionflower and ginseng for a healthy mind and body.

In Japan, perceived by some to be the birthplace of these healthy "near waters", GNPD reports on the introduction of Fiber Water from House Foods. As the product name suggests, it is fortified with fibre, which is suppose to cleanse the body from the inside.

The Perrier water brand is also innovating the water market with the French introduction of Fluo flavoured and coloured waters in two interesting varieties: Citron Genièvre, a yellow coloured line with a lemon and juniper berry flavour; and Cerice Gingembre, a pink coloured water with a cherry and ginger flavour.

Many bottled waters tend to have a non-specific/family target audience. However, we are slowly starting to see more segmentation with regard to target audience.

For young "sporty" adults we have seen brands such as Reebok Fitness Water. And for children, past product introductions have included Sainsbury's strawberry flavoured water in the Blue Parrot Café range and in the US Dannon Fluoride To Go. Another more recent introduction is Buxton's branded mineral water for kids in the UK from Perrier-Vittel. It is aimed at nursery and primary school-aged children and features space on the label for children to write their names on. It comes in a sports bottle.

Still looking at bottled water, but concentrating on packaging, Echo Springs Water's, Natural Spring Water packaging is dripping with creativity. The 250ml plastic pouch is perfect for such outings as hiking and car trips as it offers a built-in straw for added convenience. The Pocket Paks, as they are referred to, can be found in supermarkets in 8-ct. packs.

While on the subject of packaging but away from soft drinks, Wild cream liqueur has been launched in South Africa, in a bottle with a lively leopard-skin material covering.

The beer category this month brings us back to the subject of innovation in flavours. An emerging trend in the beer market is the addition of flavours to compete with FABs or to simply give added value. Recent flavoursome beers include a banana-flavoured beer in the UK from retailer Tesco. It is said to offer the natural sweetness of banana together with the bitterness of beer. In Germany, Holsten has introduced Cooler, a lemon flavoured beer available in 2.5% ABV and alcohol-free varieties. Finally, new in France from Pernod Ricard is Arobase, a range of shots in sachets (e.g. caramel & vodka, lemon & tequila, and ginger) to be added to beer. They come in convenient 20ml round sachets with a hole in the middle so they can be placed on the neck of the bottle.