just-drinks authors and correspondents

Tom Vierhile, Innovation Insights Director at GlobalData

Columns by Tom Vierhile, Innovation Insights Director at GlobalData

New Product Development in the Global Drinks IndustryNew Product Development in the Global Drinks Industry

Every month, Tom Vierhile from consumer intelligence provider GlobalData considers the latest NPD activity in the drinks industry.

Articles by Tom Vierhile, Innovation Insights Director at GlobalData

Seltzers like Boston Beer Co's Truly Spiked & Sparkling range have led the way in the growing trend towards healthier alcohol offerings'Healthy alcohol' - the trend to watch in 2019? - NPD trends 28 November 2018

The prospect of 'healthy alcohol' may sound like an oxymoron, given new global health warnings about alcohol consumption. But, alcohol companies are doubling down on efforts to ameliorate health concerns with a new generation of healthy alcohol, and the segment looks set to be a major new trend for 2019.

The Coca-Cola Co has lined up the US launch of an alkaline water version of SmartwaterAlkaline water heading for the mainstream in 2019 - NPD trends 2 November 2018

With 2019 just around the corner, the search is on for the next breakout beverage sector for the New Year. The safest bet may be on alkaline water, a type of premium water that will be at the receiving end of a marketing boost from The Coca-Cola Co with its US launch of Smartwater Alkaline in March.

Earlier this year, Lagunitas launched hop-flavoured water brand Hi-Fi Hops in CaliforniaAs consumers dial down the alcohol, could hop-flavoured water break new ground? - NPD trends 18 September 2018

The secret to a great beer often comes down to the quality of the hops that are used to make it. Depending upon the variety, hops can add floral, fruity, bitter, grassy, flowery, spicy or earthy notes to beer. But, why should hops be limited to beer? A growing number of beverage makers are finding that the unique flavour qualities of hops are well-suited for soft drink innovation. 

The rate of activity in the RTD coffee segment is rising, as functionality becomes a major selling pointHow RTD coffee could be the next functional drink boom area - NPD trends 23 August 2018

Coffee has been a functional drink probably for as long as it has been in existence, thanks to its natural caffeine content, which has made it a beloved source of energy in the morning. But, coffee has never been much of a player in the functional beverage market partly because its own health status has been questioned over the years. This situation is starting to change, and Starbucks' recent launch of Protein Blended Cold Brew is a sign that coffee may be emerging as the next hot functional beverage platform.

Coca-Cola Clear launched in Japan last monthJapan’s "summer of clear" tests the conventional wisdom on beverage colours - NPD trends 25 July 2018

A burst of clear-coloured beverage innovation in Japan this summer is challenging the traditional role of colour in beverage innovation, potentially providing new insights into the role colour plays in beverage choice. The conventional wisdom is that colour strongly affects the perceived taste and flavour of a beverage. Removing colour can be both disruptive and attention grabbing, but can violating colour-flavour norms really be a path to success in beverage innovation?

Kombucha has started to appear on the radars of companies like Molson CoorsWhy is kombucha gaining traction with big drinks companies? - NPD trends 20 June 2018

These are changing times for kombucha. Molson Coors' acquisition of California-based Clearly Kombucha earlier this month, following PepsiCo's 2016 purchase of kombucha and vinegar tonics producer KeVita and Suja's (partly owned by Coca-Cola) recent kombucha extension show that the segment is in the process of graduating from niche status to a broader market sufficient in size and scope to interest the beverage giants. This being the case, the odds on 2018 marking a breakout year for kombucha are shortening.

Suntory launched Pepsi J-Cola Midnight in Japan in AprilHow targeting night-time consumption will breathe life into CSDs - NPD trends 18 May 2018

Soft drink innovation in Japan is often on a different level to that in other world markets, with new offerings coming and going at a furious pace. This makes it difficult to judge whether or not a specific launch is evidence of something big or just a fling with the latest flavour fad. Time will tell, but Suntory's launch of Pepsi J-Cola Midnight in Japan last month could be evidence that the global soft drinks group has bigger plans in store for night-time beverages.

As the legalisation of cannabis sweeps across the US, enhanced water producers are getting very excitedHow cannabis has blown the doors off the enhanced water segment - NPD trends 19 April 2018

Few ingredients in the natural and organic industry have generated as much buzz as CBD (cannabidiol). Naturally occurring in cannabis plants and renowned for its exhaustive list of health properties, this controversial chemical compound is starting to inspire a wave of innovation in enhanced waters.

Michelob Ultra Pure Gold is the latest attempt by Anheuser-Busch InBev to capitalise on the healthful consumption trendHow ultra-light beer is re-defining the light beer concept - NPD trends 21 March 2018

It is not your imagination: Light beer is getting lighter. Although the top light brands, such as Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite, have seen their sales erode for nearly a decade in the US, the success of Anheuser-Busch InBev's Michelob Ultra variant has given the industry hope. Subsequently, a new wave of innovators seeking to establish a new ultra-light premium beer niche has been born.

Soft drinks is one of the top items purchased by SNAP households in the USHow helping poorer US consumers is set to hammer the soft drinks industry - Consumer Trends 19 February 2018

Carbonated soft drinks companies are used to navigating choppy waters, especially in the US where sales have been declining since 2003, according to GlobalData. However, a proposed revamp of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides foods and beverages to poor Americans, could end up delivering a new blow to soft drinks that the industry did not anticipate.

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