Business

Written on October 28, 2022.


What do White Claw, Vizzy, Truly, and other ready-to-drink alcohol beverage companies have in common? Simply put, they’re all a product of a fermentation process commonly called “sugar-brew.” Sugar-brew is the sugar from sugar cane, beets, or corn used as the alcohol base. Sugar-brew products differ from something like beer which uses grains for its fermentation base. It’s typically a method used for home-brewers but has very recently become a popular alternative to fermented grain beverages like vodka or beer. We’re here to explore what sugar-brew is, what makes the process unique, the value of using it in your product, and highlight some of the most popular brands bringing it to market.  

The Sugar-brew Process

The sugar-brew process is similar to brewing any other type of alcohol, but to get a better understanding, let’s lay out one key concept: fermentation. Fermentation is simply when a substance is broken down and converted into something else. It’s like legos or toy building blocks; you can use heat to break down grain or bacteria and make something new during fermentation. Most craft beers are fermented by taking the sugar in yeast and grains and converting it into alcohol. Because sugar is a reasonably simple compound, the alcohol compounds from sugar are smaller and not nearly as strong as beer. Thus, once sugar is fermented, you’re left with a colorless gluten-free brew with lower calories than most beverages. Sugar-brew is growing increasingly popular in the market as it’s expanded the possibilities of selling alcohol and non-alcohol beverages.

Seltzers and “beyond beer” products are created in similar processes in that they’re both fermented using yeast and a sugar source that’s turned into alcohol. The difference is that when beer is fermented, the sugar is extracted by “wort” or malt extract and water. For sugar brew, the wort process is skipped entirely, and the sugar cane is fermented in water. Many more brands, such as Corona, Crook & Marker, Four Loko, and even Bud Light, are catching on to the alternative alcohol base, sugar brew.   

Sugar Brew Brands

Many brands are taking advantage of the sugar-brew craze that seems to be sweeping the beverage industry by storm. More notably, brands that sell hard seltzers have been making significant strides in the market for years now as more consumers want ready-to-drink cocktails and beer alternatives. Hard seltzers also include labels such as “beyond beer” and incorporate spirit-based and wine-based seltzers. Some of the brands that are making a splash in the sugar-brew method are Bon & Liv, White Claw, and Coors seltzers to only name a few. Bon & Liv is a beverage company that sells hard seltzers in various flavors. The spiked seltzers are brewed with natural sugar cane, only 90 calories, and 4.8% ABV. One of the more popular forms of sugar brewed is White Claw. White Claw serves beverages that are made from seltzer water, gluten-free malted alcohol base, and various flavors. The base primarily has 51% sugar, small amounts of yeast, nutrients, and water. Another brand that is also taking advantage of the sugar-brew craze is Coors seltzers. Much like Bon & Liv, their seltzers are low in calories and brewed from sugar cane, but they also use the lightness of the seltzers to pack their beverages with fruit aromas such as black cherry, mango, lemon-lime, and grapefruit. 

Sweet for All

What makes sugar-brew unique? We’ve discussed what makes the sugar-brew process remarkable, but what about from a consumer perspective? Or even a production and sales perspective? The sugar-brew phenomenon has many benefits.  From the point of view of the average consumer, the appeal comes from getting a beverage that has light calories and alcohol (if preferred), less sugar and sweetness, and a wider variety of flavors. Many people this year are looking for products that will aid them in their health-conscious goals, and many sugar-brew products are a sweet enough reward for such an audience. Others merely love the variety of flavors that sugar-brew products can produce. Many consumers are looking to drink and explore different flavors for a varied pallet, and sugar-brew products are a great addition. 

From a sales perspective, any respectable company would consider sugar brew products because of their variety in beverage labeling. The Federal Alcohol Administration(FAA) labels sugar-brew products as malt beverages and beer. Sugar-brew offers a variety of categories to a broader audience for beverage sellers. And finally, sugar-brew even has benefits for production packaging! The vast methods of production reach many different co-packaging options. Sugar-brew beverages are accessible for taproom and retail products.   

Sugar-brew is something everyone in the beverage industry should keep an eye on. It’s a unique brewing technique that can develop flavorful and varied beverages, offers tasteful and dignified alcohol alternatives, and is a safe venture for beverage producers. Soon, even more varieties of sugar products will expand the market and become standard in the alcohol world as beer itself.

If reading about the sugar brew trend has sparked some ideas for your beverage, fill out this form, and we can help you change what the world is drinking..   

 

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Written on September 26, 2022.

So, you have a ground-breaking idea for your beverage. Excellent! Now you have to start building a beverage brand!  But where do you start? You could start with the ingredients or the flavor you want to develop. You could begin with how to package it, but the further you travel down that rabbit hole, you may find yourself circling back to how you are going to market your beverage. Doing the hard work upfront such as understanding your target audience, establishing your brand’s identity, and working with the right professionals along the way will help you immensely in building your beverage brand and the strategy you take into the market.

Finding Your Target Audience 

You can start from many different points in the beverage development process but determining your target audience first can help you discover what makes your brand unique and visually appealing, gradually helping you boil down your beverage profile. Whomever you decide to sell your beverage to will play a key role in what goes into your drink and how it’s promoted. Let’s hypothetically say you want your drink to appeal to a Caribbean audience. To do so, you may want to think of more tropical blends of fruit flavors to use in your beverage. Or, if your target audience is children, you might want to brainstorm popular packaging trends in that age demographic.

“Your selection of flavors should appeal to your intended audience and attract them to trying your product. The same could be said with sweetener choices. Choose the ingredients that reinforce your brand identity and makes a difference to your target consumers.”- Brad Nichols, Director of Business Development – Flavorman

When imagining your target audience, not only do you want to consider current trends, but you’ll also want to think about age demographics, what your audience values, and what they will get out of a product. Picking your target audience can be very intuitive; most people aim to create a drink they would like personally or a beverage that appeals to family and friends. While it can be a great place to start, you want to be especially specific, considering that many brands in the market may already fill that void. How will your beverage or brand stand out in the market? It can be a lot to think about, but the best way to narrow your audience down is to consider what people value and how your product might add to their lives. You also might want to think about what entertains or grabs your audience’s attention. When promoting to younger demographics, you might consider using mascots or cartoons. Or, if you’re selling to blue-collar workers, you might want to show how your product can fit or improve their work schedule. Establishing that target audience will not only help make ingredient decisions, but it will also lead to your overall characteristics or brand attributes. 

Building a Beverage Brand

Brand Attributes  

When marketing your beverage, you’ll also want to consider the characteristics that make your brand unique. Think of it this way, many brands have attributes that set them apart; for example, Amazon emphasizes its fast-shipping delivery or, Digiorno emphasizes its restaurant-quality pizza. Other brands use their intriguing backstories to promote their products, such as Uncle Nearest and others that advertise for convenience, like Kool-Aid. When establishing the identity of your brand, brainstorm the unique features that separate you from your competitors.

“Brand attributes are the pillars that set the foundation for the narrative or the strategic positioning of your brand in the marketplace. That’s critical because being consistent against that foundation or that narrative is really what’s going to set your brand apart in the marketplace and really attract people to it.”Jeff Insco, President/Executive Director – UPBrand

Does your brand have a captivating story behind its creation? Is there something in your beverages that will improve someone’s life? Are there other services that you want to provide under the brand? Our brand attributes help establish our own identity that we use to make our brand unique and stay consistent. One way to help you begin conjuring your brand attributes is to think of your brand as a living being. What descriptors would you attach to them? Brand attributes are the conceptual ideas, characteristics, and stories that paint a mental picture of the brand. Once those brand attributes are established you can work on developing a product that fits your brand and create your visual identity. 

 Building a Beverage Brand

Flavorman’s Brand Attributes:

  • The Total Beverage Package: Unlike others in the beverage formulation space, our services span the entire continuum of the beverage development process. We offer beverage education, certification, flavor formulation, production, regulatory, R&D, sourcing, manufacturing and more– a single source solution.
  • Unmatched Expertise:  We bring decades of experience from the beverage industry. Our seasoned team represents a range in specialties including flavor chemistry, product development, production, distillery operations, beverage quality control, packaging, and other technical beverage areas with access to an extensive roster of industry partners. Throughout the experience with [our brand], clients learn from the best in the business.
  • Your constant collaborator:  Flavorman considers our client’s beverage a journey. The process is designed to ensure clients have a voice and gain important industry knowledge to increase their opportunity for success. We win when clients win.
  • An Elite Experience:  We’ve spent decades perfecting our services, processes and products to give customers a world-class experience and uphold our reputation for excellence in the beverage industry. From the first encounter to their finished product, clients reap the benefits of our immersive, service-oriented business model. We provide solutions!
  • Customized to a Client’s Vision: No client’s experience, goals, or dreams are the same. Flavorman provides solutions and flexibly designed to deliver what a client requires and explores the possibilities for what a client could achieve.

Visual Identity  

One of the first things you think of when you think of a brand you like is the logo. Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Jim Beam and many more brands have memorable visual identities that grab your attention. Once you have established your brand attributes, you can start conceptualizing your brand’s visual identity. While working with a marketing agency, you can begin creating branded collateral and ensure that your brand’s visual aesthetic fits today’s standards. First, you must set the stage of your visual identity, which means deciding on a few key elements such as color, typography, voice/tone, and aesthetic styles that ultimately help you create a visual portfolio that represents your brand. Your brand’s visual identity needs to stay consistent throughout all platforms and mediums. A combination of those visual attributes will give you the tools to create a roadmap for your brand’s visual story. Afterwards you can start thinking about your logos, labels, website, packaging, and advertisements for your product. It’s important to note that your visual identity is more than just one of these visual aspects; they are visual pieces of a larger puzzle that tell the story and characteristics of your brand. 

“We use the brand attributes and assets to inspire our creative team to create a visual vocabulary for the brand. That could be colors, typefaces or fonts, iconography, logo marks; all the things that are going to visually send a cue about your brand.”- Jeff Insco, President/Executive Director – UPBrand

Building a Beverage Brand

Once you’ve done the hard work of identifying your target audience, establishing brand attributes, and creating a visual identity you’re ready to begin strategizing. Your market strategy will cover distribution, advertising, public relations, content creation, and social media. Having a solid market strategy will help you control the narrative of your brand, how it’s regarded, and how it’s discussed. Everything from an intriguing backstory of your product, demographics, brand attributes, and the resulting consistent visual themes, all play a role in establishing the overall identity of your brand and how you communicate that to the market.

“When looking for a marketing agency, be open about the problems you’re trying to solve. Agencies are fundamentally creative problem solvers. Be fully transparent and authentic about what you’re trying to do. It’s how we work best with our clients, and that’s the same throughout the business.” McKenzie Telthorst, VP of Brand Management – UPBrand

When you’re ready to talk about your idea to change what the world is drinking, give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or get started with this web form.

 

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Written on June 16, 2022.

Juneteenth is a national holiday dedicated to not only the end of slavery within the United States, but to also celebrate African Americans’ history, culture, and contributions.  Although it is a recent national holiday, it has been celebrated for years, and here at Flavorman, we believe in uplifting those accomplishments and achievements as well. African Americans in the past and now are making bold innovations in the beverage industry. Not only do we want to uplift those that are making drinks, but also those that have a hand in helping the beverage industry grow and reach new audiences. At Flavorman, we want to celebrate 5 people within the African diaspora who are innovators in the beverage world.

Nathan Green- Master Distiller 

There are a lot of unsung and unnoticed African Americans that have helped shape the modern world through inventions and skills. Through obscurity, Nathan Green was almost one of those individuals lost to the sands of time. Still, thanks to the research of 20 Journalists, historians, archivists, archaeologists, conservators, and genealogists, his story has been brought to the light.

Nathan Green was born into slavery and was freed with the ratification of slavery. Green was owned by a preacher named Dan Col,  and continued to work with Col in his side-hustle of distilling whisky after the ratification of slavery. Dan Col took in a boy who would later be known as “Jack Daniel” who wanted to be involved in the whisky distilling business. Not much older than Jack, Green was charged to teach him the technique of distilling Tennessee whisky. Green derived his method from West Africa called “sugar-maple-charcoal” filtering. It was also known as the “the Lincoln County process,” and it was a method of distilling whiskey that gave it a unique smoothness. Once Jack got older, he made a career selling whiskey around town and to soldiers during the civil war. When Jack got older, he bought the distilling business from Dan Col and hired Nathan, or “Uncle Nearest” as he liked to call him, as the first master distiller of Jack Daniel’s whiskey company. Jack would later employ green’s sons Eli, Lewis, and George in the business.

Nathan Green’s contribution to the whiskey industry went unnoticed for years, but his work in establishing one of the most well-known alcohol beverages shouldn’t go unnoticed. Nathan Green’s methods are not only innovative in his use of whiskey distilling at the time, but it also touches back to the African roots from which he had been ripped away, making his story and contribution more unique. Thanks to those dedicated historians, and with some endorsement from actor Jeffery Wright, Nathan Green was finally given his own whisky brand in 2019 with the Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey company. The premium whiskey has now earned 450 awards for three consecutive years, is available in all 50 states, and has been dubbed on the website as the “Malt Disney world.

 Mikaila Ulmer- Me and the Bees Lemonade 

One of the youngest entrepreneurs and beverage innovators at 17 years old, Mikaila Ulmer, is the C.E.O. and inventor of “Me and the Bees Lemonade.” Years ago, Ulmer was stung by a bee twice. To ease her pain Ulmer learned about Bees and suddenly became fascinated with what they contributed to the overall ecosystem. One day her parents told her about a Children’s Business competition, and Ulmer got the idea to use her grandmother’s “flaxseed” lemonade recipe. To make the lemonade more unique, Ulmer thought back to her fascination with bees and decided that instead of using sugar for her lemonade, she would use honey from bees. In wanting to preserve the life and the ecosystem the bees helped to maintain, Ulmer dedicates a percentage of her lemonade sales to organizations that help save bees. Ulmer’s business motto is “Buy a bottle, save a bee.”

Ulmer’s lemonade grew in popularity in Austin, Texas, and is now sold in Whole Foods, Fresh Market, World Market, and H-E-B across the state, as well as Kroger stores and Vitamin cottage natural stores. Not only does Mikaila Ulmer work with environmental organizations such as the “Healthy Hive Foundation,” but she has also published a book titled Bee Fearless, Dream Like a Kid. Ulmer’s innovations and ideas are not only in the beverage industry but also in the overall preservation of the ecosystem and the bees, which are in danger of extinction.

Marc Farrell- Ten to One Rum

A Trinidadian native, Marc Farrell not only made a delicious rum from authentic Caribbean ingredients but has also used the rum to connect more people with Caribbean culture and history. An M.I.T., Cambridge, and Harvard Business school graduate, Marc Farrell became the youngest Vice President of Starbucks. After leaving the position, Farrell became fascinated with the public perception that rum carried. Farrell wanted to take the image and connotation of rum away from its roots in slavery, pirating, and British colonialism and imbue it with Caribbean history and culture that is proud and strong.

The flavoring and ingredients of “Ten to one” rum are also authentic to Caribbean culture; the dark rum blends bourbon-aged Barbadian, Dominican, Jamaican, and Trinidadian rums with no added flavoring or sugar. The white version of the rum blends Jamaican pot-still rum and Dominican column-still rum with zesty jasmine and honeysuckle.

Marc Farrell is a trailblazer for his company and to the rum industry overall. Farrell is making his rum more authentic and closer to the culture that helped produce rum, and he is also using his product to promote other Caribbean artists with clothing brands and musicians associated with the brand, including Ciera and those of the “New Calypso” movement.

Tamala Austin- J.I.V.E. Juice 

Houston Texas native Tamala Austin is the founder and C.E.O. of a juice and smoothie company known as J.I.V.E. juice which stands for “Juice Is Very Essential.” After receiving a diagnosis of high blood pressure, Tamala started seriously thinking about her health and wellness. Around this time, she began creating juices and smoothies made from natural fruits and ingredients for herself. Eventually, Tamala started selling the juice and smoothies out of her Texas house and became famous through word-of-mouth marketing. Austin’s juice and smoothies grew more popular, and suddenly J.I.V.E. juice was born! As a certified health professional, Tamala Austin believes “Your health is your wealth. Your health is our business.”

When the company expanded, the J.I.V.E. juice company became the first business owned by an African American to be shelved and stocked in Whole Foods. Her juice and smoothies are guaranteed to help boost your energy, improve your digestion, and improve your immune system. The J.I.V.E. team can also customize drinks with the clients’ health in mind and made with natural fruit ingredients free of additive sugars or fats.

Tamala Austin and her J.I.V.E. company are innovators because they are not only making strides within the juice and beverage world but making a definitive and conscious effort to make their products healthy for the customers. Many brands and companies seek to make a profit, and while J.I.V.E. does charge, they also aim to please and help the customer for their long-term health and wellness.

Andra Aj Johnson- Beverage Director

Although she’s mainly known for being a beverage director, Andra Aj Johnson has worn multiple hats within the food and beverage industry since she was 14. An Afro-Latino who grew up in the black and urban neighborhoods of Washington, DC, Andra Johnson is a managing partner and director of her of her own restaurant and bar Serenata , a bar director, and a cocktail mixologist. As a hospitality industry leader, Andra Johnson is level 1 in the Court of master sommeliers and a Cicerone-certified beer server, is only some of the few accomplishments that demonstrate her wide-range of skills and knowledge. She also spearheads an initiative cocktail program, called “Back to Black,” which strives to raise funds and donate to overlooked and underfunded charities and organizations in Washington, DC, especially those within urban neighborhoods.

Andra Johnson is a cut above the rest for not only wearing many different hats in the food and beverage industry but also for using cocktails and drinks to tell stories. Johnson loves to use the combination of cocktail ingredients to reflect a culture, a moment in history, or her people. “Crafting cocktails is a gateway to storytelling and collaboration. Each cocktail is imbued with a meaning and a story to tell.” Andra Johnson intends to share her industry knowledge and tell more stories in her upcoming book White Plates, Black Faces.   

All kinds of people are accomplishing innovations and excellent achievements. If Juneteenth has taught us anything, it’s that we should work to recognize and celebrate the works of the different cultures we encounter in our lives. The five people we listed are certainly not the only ones making significant changes within the beverage industry. We at Flavorman encourage clients to seek and shout out people from underrepresented communities who are inventing and creating new beverages that will change how the world drinks.

Do you have a great drink idea? Our team of beverage experts can help you bring it to life—and change what the world is drinking. Get started by filling out this webform or by giving us a call at (502) 273-5214.

Written on June 7, 2022.

Building company culture

By: David Dafoe, CEO, Founder, Flavorman

It’s been two years since the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic and its bilateral impact on the workforce, or rather, those in the workforce. Seemingly overnight, a massive strain was placed on employees, their overall well-being, and mental health. Workers across all fields were wearing many hats. At the same time, some performed simultaneously as employees, teachers, and caregivers, among many other roles they never dreamed they’d juggle for an extended period. So, it’s no surprise that as the pandemic surges increased, employee burnout also increased. As industry leaders, how do we overcome the barrier to retaining employees and attracting talent in overtired and overworked industries?

Investing in What Matters

Overall, we’re seeing companies create incentives hoping employees will remain at or join a company. This may work for a short time, but if the company culture is not conducive to overall employee well-being above company success, these efforts will be short-lived. To master retention, companies must focus on the comprehensive revitalization and maintenance of culture. “Culture” is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but in today’s day in age, it means providing a place for employees to achieve a “life-work” balance rather than the ages-old work-life balance. Since COVID-19, worker priorities have shifted, and employees are reevaluating where work now fits into their lives.

Getting the Flavor Back

According to ADP’s 2022 Global Workforce View, priorities have shifted since the days of corner offices and yearly 2% salary increases. Employees are seeking real change through overall satisfaction, which includes increased benefits, flexible workdays, and an environment where mental health is honored and respected. To achieve all three, overall, culture must be assessed and revamped.

While important, desiring better benefits doesn’t always mean a pay increase. Benefits can include bonus programs based on performance, paid continuing education courses, and rewarding opportunities both in and out of work to promote employee engagement. An example unique to Flavorman is that team members get together to celebrate work anniversaries and birthdays once a month. Those celebrating an anniversary or a birthday get a chance to spin a prize wheel with prizes ranging from $50 to their favorite restaurant or two free plane tickets anywhere Delta flies throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Designating these special company events inspires employee pride and incentivizes loyalty.

Building company culture

According to ADP’s 2022 annual study of workers, more than half of the assessed U.S. employees would take a pay cut if that meant they could improve their relationship with their jobs through increased flexibility and working in an environment where their interests are considered. This could include summer hours, remote work, or hours dedicated to employee interests, such as volunteer work that would still count as time spent on the clock. An example we use at Flavorman is that we allow extra time off for charitable and volunteer work. We also believe in giving back to our community and conducting fundraising opportunities for our employees to contribute to the efforts they care about.

When employers care about their employees’ best interests, mental wellness will naturally benefit; however, for employees who prefer their employers to have extra components within their wellness benefits, leadership could consider things like added time off, an on-site gym, and perhaps an office pet for added camaraderie and comfort. Our distillery dog, Camden, is a hit with both our employees and guests and regularly makes appearances during workshops and education sessions. These small steps go a long way in ensuring employees feel comforted and cared for throughout the day.

Combating employee burnout from the pandemic requires either a complete transformation or revitalization of culture, and that change begins at the c-suite level. In a rapidly changing workforce, company leadership should focus on understanding the drivers of employee satisfaction and take steps to bring these to fruition to establish a long-standing and robust business. When this starts happening, we can expect The Great Resignation to be a topic of the past.

Written on April 15, 2022.

COVID Consumer Habits

Written by David Dafoe, Cheif Executive Officer & Founder

When I started working in the beverage industry in 1986, almost all of the beverages we created contained flavors that were natural and artificial.  The beverage landscape was quite simple, with a mix of typical soda flavors, a few juices, traditional wines, spirits, and beers sold by large companies with little to no choice for variation. These beverages, for the most part, were packaged in standard bottles and cans with relatively simple graphics, side by side on store shelves.

This was a time before wine coolers, energy drinks, ready-made cocktails, tropical juice flavors, “all-natural” health beverages, dozens of beer variations, and spirits in hundreds of categories, representing a myriad of packaging and serving styles from manufacturers large and small. The beverage industry had wildly progressed into an ever-changing mix of trends, flavors, fads, and fickle consumer preferences. Then, in 2020, we paused.

Consumer Habits

In the sudden shock of COVID, consumers were comforted with familiar flavors in beverages across all categories. Childhood favorites like watermelon, strawberry, cherry, apple, and grape saw a resurgence as consumers gravitated towards immediately recognizable flavor profiles, preferring to reach for drinks that were traditional, relatable, and familiar. It seemed like overnight, consumers had stepped back to the things they knew and understood to bring comfort and make the ridiculously absurd COVID world feel normal, at least for a moment.

Consumers quickly trended toward “ready to drink” pre-mixed alcoholic beverages that were easy to buy, store and drink.  Ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails had started to build steam in recent years, but took off like a rocket during quarantine, delivering an easy solution for consumers to drink at home the cocktails they may have previously consumed in a bar or restaurant. Manhattans, Margaritas, and Gin and Tonic are now close at hand and available with the crack of a tab. Store shelves ballooned with carbonated cocktails, noncarbonated favorites, and cream-based RTDs. It was a match made in COVIDville!

Similarly, healthy and clean-label drinks became a favorite of families with kids at home learning remotely. Beverages with low sugar content and vitamins and minerals enhanced with flavors their parents recognized from their childhood were rising in popularity and being generated by product developers all around the country. “Make it healthy, simple, and familiar” was the demand of this market.

Beverages In stores

Generally, large alcohol companies sold well, as their brands were well-known and comfortable for consumers—a clear disadvantage for craft distillers. In a flash, consumers were more willing to spend money on something tried and true, and became less likely to spend money on a more expensive craft beverage that they had never tried. Adventure and exploration had been thrown out the window and classic was king. At the same time, newly health-conscious consumers became familiar with low- or no-alcohol brands and mocktails. Although both classic, established beverages and “good-for-you” spirits gained ground during COVID, no large alcohol companies seemed to lean into the healthy trend, keeping this market segment popular and “new.”

And let us not forget the common COVID symptom, loss of taste and smell, pushing afflicted consumers into bolder, more flavorful options and giving beverage manufacturers an advantage in introducing new products. Making drinks more flavorful became the mantra in beverage creation labs.  Add a bit more flavor to the beverage, make it more distinct, but still keep with traditional favorites so COVID-affected consumers have choices.

Conclusions

As we move towards the end of major COVID surges, we can see several things that will likely remain in the beverage industry for some time. First, consumers have driven flavor profiles to a more familiar and nostalgic slant.  Although we cannot control what has happened in our COVID world, we can imbibe on beverages and flavors that take us back to a simpler, “normal” time. Secondly, “ready to drink” is here to stay, making it easy to buy, store and enjoy a cocktail anytime and anywhere. Third, tried and true beverages will continue to see strong sales as we sail away from the last several years of wild experimentation.  Lastly, beverages will continue to see growth in healthy, clean-label offerings that have risen to the surface through the health concerns of our COVID era.

Like many industries through COVID, beverage and flavor companies adapted quickly to the needs and desires of consumers. Although supply chain issues caused many of us to lose sleep (and hair!), the industry as a whole reacted and rolled with consumers. I suspect that when we look back, we will see that this beverage industry has been changed for the better, while receiving good grades for our rapid changes in consumer demands.  Now, please let us move on.

When you’re ready to talk about your beverage idea, give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or get started with this web form.

 

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Written on March 30, 2022.

So, you’re a new beverage company and everything is coming together. You have the world’s tastiest drink locked up. You have the best team in place to sell it and distribute it to the perfect markets. You’ve done the research, you’ve got a plan, you are in control. But now you need to actually produce this game-changing beverage. How do you pick a contract manufacturer or bottling company to turn all your hard work into a real, tangible, drinkable beverage? And once you’ve done that, how do you know that everything is going according to plan?

Pick a Co-Packer

There are plenty of names for the companies that blend, fill, seal, and label your beverage. Whether you call it a bottling company, a canner, a copacker, or a contract manufacturer, the terms are loosely interchangeable. These are all companies that combine the necessary raw ingredients for your drink and then get them into your packaging for sale. But each copacker is going to have its own processes, specialties. How do you know who to trust with your business?

Picking a copacker is an important decision and there are a few things to keep in mind. Specifically: don’t rush. Take your time and make your decision based off of as much information as you can acquire. Make some phone calls, ask for advice, peruse their websites. Do the work. Selecting this partner is one of the major keys to producing a winning beverage. Make sure that they have the capacity and capability to make a drink to your specifications. It’s your business, so take the extra time to get this choice right the first time.

Acquire Raw Materials

It is vital that the lines of communication between you and your copacker stay open. One great example of this is the acquisition of raw materials.  Some co-packers will want to handle all the ordering themselves – your beverage ingredients (sweeteners, functional ingredients, flavors, colors, etc), and your packaging (i.e. bottles, labels, cartons) themselves. Others will expect you to place and arrange all those moving pieces yourself. Work with your copacker to have clear expectations of who is responsible for what aspect of material acquisition.

Acquire Raw Materials

Production Manual

You’ve picked your copacker and you’ve managed to get all of the necessary materials to their facility.  It’s time to make your drink! But how? This is where your copacker will expect a clear set of instructions about how to combine all those raw materials into a delicious, ready-for-market drink. At Flavorman, we provide an extensive Production Manual that hits all the required notes. It’s easy to read, thorough, and contains all the necessary specifications and instructions that will make life easier for your copacker. Before your production is started or even scheduled, it’s good to review this information with your copacker to make sure that there will be no ugly and costly surprises on the way to getting your first unit filled.

Production Manual

Schedule a Date

Now that you and your copacker are confident about how to make your beverage, it’s time to decide when. This is another point at which open communication is important. Some copackers will give you a specific date and require the materials all be on hand as much as two weeks ahead of time. Others will give you a range of dates. And still others will require everything has arrived at their facility before they can provide your official date for a production run. Have clear expectations and communicate them regularly. If you did your research, you’ll know your copackers regulations and requirements before you reach this stage. Work with your suppliers to get lead times that fit your copacker’s schedule and are realistic for your supply chain.

Have a Presence

The greatest copacker of all time with the best of intentions and the best possible instructions can still make mistakes. One way to help prevent this is to be present. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to physically be at the production facility on the day of your production (though that’s a good idea, too!). Being present means staying involved and staying informed about your production. If you aren’t able for whatever reason to personally attend, many copackers will accommodate you with phone call updates or even video conferencing. But there is nothing that can replace having someone there to advocate for your business. Maybe it is someone from your organization, but maybe that representative will be a trusted third party. The production process consists of batching (making your beverage), and filling (getting it into your bottle or can). Having someone other than the copacker there to taste and test your beverage after batching and to physically hold your drink after filling is irreplaceable.

Have a Presence

Flavorman recommends having a technical representative attend your production.  This is especially true for first productions. Whether it’s the first time you are making a drink or the first time working with a new copacker, first productions are more likely to experience difficulties and therefore more aided by the presence of technical professionals. Having a highly trained technician familiar with your beverage present offers the following benefits:

1 – Answer Questions: A Flavorman Representative can answer any questions that your copacker may have about the beverage or Production Manual. Furthermore, they can also answer questions for you! It can be a long and confusing day for your first production. Having someone to walk you through the processes while your copackers are busily at work can be a great comfort.

2 – Catch Errors: Their familiarity with your beverage and the manufacturing process can help stop problems before they arise. Specifically, in the “batching” process it can be extremely handy to have professionals present to keep an eye on the process and confirm that it’s being done according to your requirements.

3 – Ensure Quality: Understanding the organoleptic (taste, smell, color) properties of your beverage is one of Flavorman’s calling cards. Having a technician on site to test your finished product to make sure that it is properly representative of your intended drink is a great insurance policy. You want all units of your beverage to taste exactly the way it did when you perfected it! Beyond just the sensory evaluations, having a member of the Flavorman quality team at your production allows you to have someone who understands all the numbers that are being thrown around. Are your densities, BRIX, pH, and proofs all coming out according to plan? They can tell you!

Conclusion

Transforming your beverage from an idea into a real, tangible product can seem interminable. And just when you think you’ve reached the finish line, you are faced with the important decision of picking a copacker. There are great options all over the world, but there may only be one that meets your needs perfectly. Hopefully you now feel a little more comfortable about what that process looks like and the pieces it consists of.

Remember to do your research, ask around, and take your time when picking your copacker. Once you’ve found the perfect match, keep the lines of communication open and the expectations of both sides clear and manageable. And when the day comes to finally fill your drink into your bottles, make sure you’ve got experts on your side who can monitor the process and advocate for your business. Working with industry experts can help you get across the finish line on your way to having your beverage hit the market.

When you’re ready to talk about your idea to change what the world is drinking, give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or get started with this web form.

 

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Written on March 7, 2022.

International Women's Day

When we heard about this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #BreakTheBias, we knew exactly the group of women who perfectly illustrate it – our lab team. In recognition of the all the women of Flavorman, we want to highlight our women-led lab team and hear their thoughts on the inclusion of girls and women into the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

 

Celebrating International Women's Day

Monica Horn, Associate Beverage Architect
Meet Monica Horn – an Associate Beverage Architect at Flavorman in charge of making beverages that meet our clients’ visions. Monica got her start in science and technology after graduating from Michigan State University, where she worked in biomedical laboratories in the health care industry. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, she wanted to make a change and joined us at Flavorman. She said she applied to work at our company because she could show other people that women should have roles in STEM.

“I knew I was going to enjoy working for a company that allows women from different backgrounds to be themselves.”

Monica hopes to inspire women and girls to consider a career in science and technology because it has “endless routes to fulfill whatever your desire is.”

She says the most important advice to remember is to “create your career, don’t let society make that choice for you, and go for it.”

Celebrating International Women's Day

Kristen Wemer, Director of Technical Services
Kristen has been on our team for more than 10 years and oversees all technical services for our clients. She’s even had a client take their product onto “Shark Tank” and successfully get a deal, which was a dream come true for her. She says she has always been passionate about food and science, and once she knew this passion could turn into a career, she was on the fast track to success. She says it’s essential for women to

“have the opportunity to have any role they want, and by seeing other women in these roles, it helps others visualize themselves in that position.”

As a leader at Flavorman, she hopes to inspire women and girls about the careers they can have and to chase their dreams, and looks forward to the day when women are recognized daily for all that they do. We couldn’t agree more!

Celebrating International Women's Day

Kadeja Davis, Associate Beverage Architect
Jack-of-all-trades Kadeja Davis serves as an Associate Beverage Architect, Vendor Coordinator, Beverage Developer, and Inventory Associate at Flavorman. Kadeja plays an integral role in the success of our company – right down to the specific ingredients we need to create the perfect beverage for our clients. Her duties at Flavorman require a lot of teamwork and collaboration with other departments. She says she finds empowerment and joy in working with her teammates because “we teach one another every step of the way.” As someone who is constantly willing to lead and learn from others, Kadeja cannot stress the importance of asking people questions and collaborating.

“I would encourage young girls to be eager to learn from whoever you can, ask as many questions as you can and never lose your desire to learn. One of my supervisors once told me ‘knowledge is power,’ and that helps me every day with my desire to learn.”

Kadeja’s dedication to learning keeps our entire team motivated daily!

Celebrating International Women's Day

Dorian Joseph, Assistant Beverage Architect
As an Assistant Beverage Architect at Flavorman, Dorian Joseph helps develop samples for clients, updates ingredients to make the product even better and executes new ideas they may have. Dorian started as a temporary employee and was both fascinated and motivated to learn more about the process. She has worked her way up in our company and although she’s thriving in her current role, Dorian says she would have been inspired at a younger age if she saw people like herself in more science and technology roles.

“I believe representation matters, especially to young Black girls. If I had a science teacher who looked like me, it would’ve pushed me to keep going and ask more questions.”

She says seeing women like herself in the STEM field is a great feeling, and she hopes to see more Black women join the industry. Dorian believes women’s accomplishments should be recognized daily. “Beyonce said it best, ‘who runs the world? Girls!’”

Celebrating International Women's Day

Cristene Gilbert, Beverage Architect
Cristene Gilbert, a Beverage Architect at Flavorman, focuses on reading formulations, gathering ingredients, and combining them in an order that allows the best and tastiest blend. After working in animal research for seven years, Cristene switched to join us at Flavorman less than a year ago. As someone who finds empowerment from the women before her, she is proud to be that role model for other women and girls and help pave a path for them in STEM.

“The importance to have women in roles like this is undeniably the key for future young women. To know that another strong woman has walked the path that I am on now and having a support system that understands me as a female in the workforce is a true privilege.”

Cristine says people would be surprised to know that the company helps to develop some of their favorite drinks, and she’s proud to play a part in this work with her teammates.
“It a true privilege to say the least,” Cristine says.

Celebrating International Women's Day

Katie Clark, Director of Research and Development
As Director of Research and Development at Flavorman, Katie Clark is our fearless leader of all things process improvements and project guidance. Katie says she earned her ranks through “blood, sweat, tears, the combination of an ‘old-fashioned farmgirl’ work ethic and a timely opportunity from Flavorman’s success.” She says that working with so many incredible women daily has made her “both proud and humbled.”

“Every woman brings certain strengths, and it’s important that we acknowledge and embrace those unique strengths. There’s still work to do in clearing a fair path for women to succeed professionally, but I think it starts with women embracing other women’s strengths and letting that intention be louder than any weakness. To me, that’s empowerment.”

Celebrating International Women's Day

Claire Oslund, Associate Beverage Architect
Claire Oslund is an Associate Beverage Architect who focuses on precisely completing recipes created by our team and ensuring they reach our clients efficiently. She says that finding a place where she feels supported and successful has been “the most exciting part of this job,” and “to have a working environment so open about its values, that does so much for the community, and really works hard to take care of its employees is a beautiful thing in this day and age.”
When it comes to inspiring other women to get involved in STEM roles, Claire says that biases in society have improved, but there’s still a ways to go.

“Too long have women been restricted or held back because of prejudice and outdated societal expectations about their abilities, intelligence, or value. More representation of women in science and technology is not just important to current women in STEM and their success, but also to the generations that come after us and the intrinsic quality of what they help create.”

She hopes all women and girls will advocate for themselves and remember how valued and important they are because their “happiness, safety and dreams are valid.”

 

Thank you all for your powerful stories that are helping to change the stigma behind women in STEM and inspiring women and girls across the world that they can be whatever they want to be. Cheers to your accomplishments, your empowerment, and for each of you being the change we all want to see!

 

ABOUT FLAVORMAN: Founded by David Dafoe in 1992, Flavorman is a custom beverage development company located in the heart of Bourbon country. Flavorman works with companies and entrepreneurs— big and small —to develop everything from energy drinks to flavored spirits and more. With 30 years in the industry and almost 75,000 beverage formulations, Flavorman has helped create thousands of household staples and iconic brands that have defined generations – and changed what the world is drinking. For more information, visit www.flavorman.com

Written on February 24, 2022.

Flavorman Celebrates 30 Years

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (January 14, 2022) – Flavorman, a leading beverage development company headquartered in Louisville, Ky., is celebrating 30 years of creating flavors for beverage brands worldwide, ranging from large companies like Ocean Spray, Sunsweet Growers, and Kellogg to independent companies just getting a start in the beverage industry.

Flavorman was founded in January 1992 by David Dafoe – one of the foremost authorities on flavor who got his start as a lab assistant at a Cincinnati-based flavor company, then as manager of flavor development at Brown-Forman, where he developed some of the global spirits giant’s biggest new brands. He left Brown Forman and branched out on his own to start Flavorman to help assist beverage clients in creating new flavors. Flavorman’s first big customer was Chiquita Brands International.

“We’ve come a long way from where we first started, and I couldn’t be prouder of the team of experts we have in place and the work we’ve done over the years,” said David Dafoe, CEO and Founder of Flavorman. “We have worked with hundreds of well-known and up-and-coming brands to help build new flavors and beverages to offer to consumers. We saw the need for technical innovation in the beverage industry, jumped in, and haven’t looked back, and I’m looking forward to another 30 years of working with clients to create trendsetting flavors and innovative beverages.”

Flavorman has helped many companies get their start in the beverage industry. Louisville resident, Joe Heron, used Flavorman to create his soda company Nutrisoda, which he later sold to PepsiAmericas. Two years later, with the help of Flavorman, he created a craft cider, Crispin Hard Cider, which was later sold to MillerCoors. Heron went on to further make a splash in the spirits industry after he founded Copper & Kings American Brandy Company with the help of Dafoe and Flavorman.

“Because of our work with Flavorman, beverages that began as simple ideas from novices in the beverage industry have successfully been sold to major corporations,” said Heron. “Flavorman was the engine behind the beverage formulations, and we would not be where we are today without them.”

Located at 809 South 8th Street in Louisville, Ky., Flavorman is currently expanding its 24,000-square-foot facility, which will bring 30 new jobs to the area and serve as a catalyst for attracting global business to the heart of Kentucky’s largest city. The addition will cover 27,000 square feet and connect to the company’s main laboratory. Once complete, it will boost production capacity, expanding Flavorman’s blending, bottling/canning, processing and bulk storage operations.

The $8.5 million expansion, set to be complete in the fall of 2022, is the latest in a series of developments in the last several years as the company continues to experience exponential growth – 28 of its 59 employees were hired in the last two years. In 2006, Flavorman rehabbed the existing building, and a few years later, purchased a neighboring building to create the nation’s premier educational distillery, Moonshine University.

“We joke that we started Moonshine University when Flavorman was 21-years-old and of legal age,” said Dafoe. “It has been a great investment for us and allows us to offer distillers, or even newbies, the opportunity to learn more about how to own and operate their own distillery. We’re helping so many people learn about the art of distilling, and believe we are truly leaving an impression on the bourbon and beverage industries.”

Together, Flavorman and Moonshine University make up a world-class “Beverage Campus” that houses a fully equipped educational distillery, state-of-the-art classroom, production facility with a custom bottling line, extensive sensory library and a beverage innovation laboratory. Flavorman has developed more than 74,000 beverage formulations for brands worldwide, while Moonshine University has hosted hands-on classes for students from all 50 states and 44 countries, with attendees opening over 186 distilleries.

ABOUT FLAVORMAN: Founded by David Dafoe in 1992, Flavorman is a custom beverage development company located in the heart of Bourbon country. Flavorman works with companies and entrepreneurs— big and small —to develop everything from energy drinks to flavored spirits and more. With 30 years in the industry and almost 75,000 beverage formulations, Flavorman has helped create thousands of household staples and iconic brands that have defined generations – and changed what the world is drinking. For more information, visit www.flavorman.com

Written on September 1, 2021.

When we take an orange and squeeze it into a glass, we call that juice. Of course, what you buy off the shelf in your local grocery store is also considered juice. But making a fresh-squeezed orange juice at home and manufacturing a commercially viable juice drink for consumers involve vastly different processes, considerations, and challenges. It should come as no surprise that the latter tends to be a lot more complicated—here are three reasons why:

1. Formulating With Juice Can Be Tricky.

Successfully formulating a beverage is about more than just creating a great tasting product. For one, there are a variety of juice drinks on the market—where will yours fit? PepsiCo offers a helpful summary of common classifications, each of which come with their own formulation considerations:

  • 100% Juice – 100% juice is squeezed from the fruit or vegetable and then packaged or concentrated for reconstitution with water and other ingredients at a later time.
  • Juice Beverage – These products comprise single strength, 100% juice with excess water added so that the juice percentage is below 100% juice to provide an alternative taste. Other terms with the same meaning are “juice cocktail” and “juice drink.” Under US law, manufacturers are required to list the total juice content percentage just above the Nutrition Facts panel of juices and diluted juice beverages.
  • Pasteurized Juice – This is juice that has been heated through pasteurization to increase its shelf life, ensure its safety, and minimize nutrient loss.
  • Chilled, Ready-to-Serve – These products are made from frozen concentrate or pasteurized juice, and then packaged in paper cartons, plastic, or glass.
  • From Concentrate – Juice that is manufactured by reconstituting juice concentrate.
  • Not-from-Concentrate – Juice that is squeezed from a fruit or vegetable and has never been concentrated.
  • Canned Juice – Fruit or vegetable juice that has been heated and sealed in cans to provide shelf life for an extended period.

And let’s not forget the range of drink products on the market that include juice as an ingredient (think sparkling water brand Spindrift, for example). While fruit and vegetable blends can be great for introducing nutritional benefits or enhancing the sweetness of a product, they can also present shelf-life challenges.

Regardless of how much juice is used, how it is processed, as well as where and how the finished product is stored, beverages with this ingredient eventually tend to brown, drop components out of solution, and oxidize over time—some faster than others.

Berry-derived juices, for example, are particularly volatile to browning, a process that gives an unpleasant aesthetic to the drink. Meanwhile, citrus juices are prone to oxidation which affects a beverage’s organoleptic qualities (think sensory characteristics). Ever had a rotten piece of fruit? Yeah, not something you want to see, smell, or taste in your juice!

Products formulated with large volumes of juice and those that add juice to certain combinations of ingredients are generally more susceptible to these quality issues; as a consequence, juice drinks tend to have a relatively short shelf life. This is why some beverage brands choose to combine juice (or substitute it altogether) with added flavors.

Using natural and artificial flavors in your beverage ensures a more consistent product, eliminates many of the potential quality and shelf-life challenges that come with using juice alone, and significantly reduces your Cost of Goods Sold. In fact, formulation affects more than just quality and shelf life—it also impacts production and packaging decisions.

2. Juice Drinks Require Specific Manufacturing And Packaging Considerations.

Fruit and vegetable juices can provide a rich source of nutrients, including key vitamins and minerals; that’s also why they invite a variety of microorganisms. To ensure beverage quality in commercial products using juice, special consideration must be given to manufacturing and packaging.

First of all, you should know that not all contract packers (or co-packers) offer the same capabilities. Once you know what type of process and packaging your juice drink requires, you will need to find a co-packer equipped to accommodate those needs and produce your beverage.

When selecting a co-packer, you should consider the following:

  • What are their processing capabilities?
  • What is their minimum production volume?
  • Do they have the proper licenses or certifications you require?
  • Do they follow current Good Manufacturing Practices?
  • Does the facility participate in an annual third-party audit? What do they score?
  • Where are they located in relation to your distribution area?

It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of working with any co-packer and be aware of all the fees involved to make sure you are getting the most for your money. Finding a co-packer within close proximity is great, but only if other considerations ensuring the quality of your juice drink are met.

For example, your juice needs to be stored properly until you are ready to produce. This requires refrigerated or frozen storage, which is not something all co-packers offer. Those that do charge for it, which is going to add to your costs—and don’t forget that you also have to account for cold shipping the ingredient to your co-packing facility.

Juices that require refrigerated distribution are often High Temperature Short Time (HTST) pasteurized. Gentler than a hot-fill process, HTST pasteurization allows for shelf stability; however, it still offers a relatively shorter shelf life than non-juice beverages. You should also note that refrigerated distribution is expensive, so you may need to account for that additional cost.

And let’s not forget packaging: what types of packaging are your co-packer’s lines able to fill? Not only will your co-packer need to have the capabilities required to manufacture your juice drink, but they also need to be equipped to package it accordingly.

Our Beverage Architects recommend keeping juice products away from light and heat which can lead to quality issues. Your packaging should be able to sustain the processing your drink requires, and effectively protect the liquid inside.

3. Labeling Guidelines Are Difficult To Navigate.

The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is the governing body that regulates beverage products in the United States. All commercial beverages—including your juice drink!—will need to adhere to the parameters stipulated by the FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations.

Title 21, Parts 101 and 102 of the CFR provide guidelines specific to beverages containing fruit or vegetable juice, including how their percentage juice declaration should appear on the label. Here are a few examples of labeling requirements you may need to consider based on your product’s unique composition:

  • For Less Than 1% Juice – If the beverage contains less than 1 percent juice, the total percentage juice shall be declared as “less than 1 percent juice” or “less than 1 percent ___ juice” with the blank filled in with the name of the particular fruit or vegetable.
  • For 100% Juice Plus Non-Juice Ingredients – If the beverage contains 100 percent juice and also contains non-juice ingredients that do not result in a diminution of the juice soluble solids or, in the case of expressed juice, in a change in the volume, when the 100 percent juice declaration appears on a panel of the label that does not also bear the ingredient statement, it must be accompanied by the phrase “with added ___,” the blank filled in with a term such as “ingredient(s),” “preservative,” or “sweetener,” as appropriate (e.g., “100% juice with added sweetener”), except that when the presence of the non-juice ingredient(s) is declared as a part of the statement of identity of the product, this phrase need not accompany the 100 percent juice declaration.
  • For Minor Amounts of Juice For Flavoring – If a beverage contains minor amounts of juice for flavoring and is labeled with a flavor description using terms such as “flavor,” “flavored,” or “flavoring” with a fruit or vegetable name and does not bear: (1) The term “juice” on the label other than in the ingredient statement; or (2) An explicit vignette depicting the fruit or vegetable from which the flavor derives, such as juice exuding from a fruit or vegetable; or (3) Specific physical resemblance to a juice or distinctive juice characteristic such as pulp then total percentage juice declaration is not required.
  • For Major Modifications – If the product is a beverage that contains a juice whose color, taste, or other organoleptic properties have been modified to the extent that the original juice is no longer recognizable at the time processing is complete, or if its nutrient profile has been diminished to a level below the normal nutrient range for the juice, then that juice to which such a major modification has been made shall not be included in the total percentage juice declaration.

As you can see, these guidelines can be tricky to navigate. That’s why it is always a good idea to find a partner with the expertise to advise on label compliance, like Flavorman.

Opportunities For Juice Innovation

When enjoyed alongside whole fruits and vegetables, juice products can offer a convenient way for consumers to introduce key vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients into their diets, so it is no wonder why juice (and juice-containing) products continue to benefit from a “healthy halo” effect.

Over the last decade, consumer interest in low-calorie juices, organic alternatives, and exotic or novel combinations of flavors has increased, providing beverage brands with an avenue for development and innovation.

Premium juice drinks offer the novelty of new flavors, features, and functionality (think carbonation or probiotics). Meanwhile, beverage brands can also enjoy the simple option of using juice to sweeten a product and achieve a “no added sugar” claim.

Despite the hurdles involved with this ingredient, it does present some great opportunities for creative beverage builders. The possibilities are endless—but the most successful brands will be those that can effectively plan for challenges and partner with the right team of experts.

Flavorman can set you and your product up for success. With nearly 30 years in the business, Flavorman has created almost every kind of drink imaginable—and we’re confident that we can perfect your dream beverage, too.

“Other development companies or flavor houses will give you a formula and flavor and send you on your way,” says Kristen Wemer, Flavorman’s Director Beverage Architect. “They don’t provide any technical or regulatory support. Flavorman is different. Even after your formulation has been finalized, we continue to be an extension of your team. That’s what makes us so unique and that’s what makes our clients—and their beverages—so successful.”

When you’re ready to learn how Flavorman can bring your dream drink to life, fill out this web form or give us a call at (502) 273-5214.

 

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Written on August 18, 2021.

How much is a cup of lemonade worth?

While you might be tempted to go by the pricing set by the neighborhood kids and their summer stand, the truth is that lemonade happens to be a much more lucrative business in the commercial beverage world. According to a recent IndustryARC research report, the global market size for lemonade is currently worth a whopping $12 billion, and is projected to continue growth at a CAGR of 6.8% through 2025.

Supported by consumer nostalgia and continued hybridization of beverage categories, brands have gotten a lot more creative with this classic drink over the last few years. That’s right—lemonade isn’t just a combination of lemons, sugar, and water anymore. This childhood favorite has officially grown up.

Here are the 5 biggest trends in lemonade:

1. Classic—But With A Twist…

Sometimes, elevating a classic drink like lemonade only requires swapping out a familiar ingredient to create a fresh take. While the bright flavor of lemon continues to be a staple in the beverage world, consumers are increasingly seeking new citrus profiles and exotic pairings designed to add a little adventure to an otherwise traditional experience.

Substituting lemon with similar exotic profiles like Meyer lemon and yuzu can preserve the appeal of a childhood favorite while catering to a more premium audience. Meanwhile, introducing unique flavors like dragon fruit and prickly pear can complement the sour, bitter profile of the lemon with a subtle sweetness and added complexity.

There is plenty of inspiration to be found across the globe where traditional lemonade takes on many forms. Throughout North America and India, “lemonade” means exactly what you’d expect: a blend of lemon juice, sugar, and water (though the Southern US likes to add basil to the recipe).

Travel to Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan or Brazil and your drink will be served with a flavorful addition of crushed mint leaves. However, if you order a lemonade in England, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand, and you might be in for a bigger surprise. In these countries, “lemonade” refers to a carbonated lemon-lime soda (think Sprite).

The lesson here is that sometimes, sticking with your roots and keeping it simple works best. Spindrift is a great example with a whole brand built on simplicity and quality. Their new line of unsweetened lemonade comes in three flavors—lemon limeade, pink lemonade, and strawberry lemonade—with bubbles to emphasize the drink’s signature freshness.

 

2. Lemonade, Plus Premium Flavor!

We know better than anyone that consumers crave flavor. As the category continues to gain traction, beverage brands are introducing an array of innovative lemonade flavors to delight the tastebuds—and why not? Lemon and sugar tend to pair well with almost anything. Going beyond the staple lemonade flavors of the past, brands are taking the drink to the premium sector with sophisticated new combinations.

A minority-owned brand by teenaged entrepreneur Mikaila Ulmer, Me & The Bees recently launched two new flavors of its flaxseed lemonade at Target and Whole Foods stores around the country: Prickly Pear and Ginger. The flavors, as well as the drink’s organic, clean label formulation have helped dazzle consumers and present a feel-good way to fund organizations working hard to save the bees.

Another wildly successful lemonade brand, Calypso, packages their products in glass bottles and offers nearly 20 flavors in both full sugar and sugar-free versions. Unique flavors include Triple Melon, Cucumber Limeade, and Southern Peach. During the past few years, the brand has expanded internationally and nearly doubled in growth with increased interest in their no sugar options.

Flavor may be king, but texture matters too—and it happens to be a beverage quality that is gaining more attention as of late.

 

3. For Boba Lovers

Boba is a refreshing Taiwanese beverage that features round, chewy balls of tapioca. Also known as bubble tea or milk tea, the drink has quickly become a summer sensation in the US. Even while the industry experiences a shortage of boba balls and the tapioca starch from which they are made, brands are scrambling to deliver consumers their boba fix with lemonade.

Last summer, Del Taco—the nation’s second largest Mexican quick service restaurant—added Sprite Poppers (the lemon-lime soda brand, plus boba balls) to menus for a limited time. In March of this year, they made Poppers permanent, choosing to pair the chewy blueberry and peach-flavored beads with Minute Maid ZeroSugar Lemonade.

Dunkin’ restaurants recently announced their own roll out of “popping bubbles” to their menu. The bubbles, which only come in a strawberry flavor for now, can be added to any iced or frozen Dunkin’ beverage. Thanks to their fruity flavor, they reportedly have been a hit in complementing the chain’s coconut refreshers and lemonade options.

RTD brands have also taken the plunge, churning out novel pre-mixed boba products. Joyba Bubble Tea is an RTD brand featuring two flavors, including a strawberry lemonade green tea with boba, now available at Costco stores nationwide.

The move to pair boba with lemonade not only provides an approachable way for F&B brands to introduce the drink to Western consumers, but also to elevate an otherwise standard experience. This is especially critical as more people develop sensory disorders from chronic COVID. The industry has an opportunity to innovate and create more interesting drinks for sufferers of lost or distorted taste and smell by enhancing beverages with texture.

 

4. Make It Whipped

Boba isn’t the only drink texture consumers seem to be drawn to. TikTok—the app that recently hit a milestone three billion downloads worldwide—can be thanked for giving us the latest trend in lemonade.

Following the hype around the fluffy South Korean dalgona coffee in 2020, TikTok users started experimenting with other forms of whipped drinks, including lemonade. While it is difficult to pinpoint who can be credited for first circulating the viral “creamy lemonade,” there’s no doubt that it has since fascinated consumers who have rushed to try it out.

In an interview with TODAY, user @goldenxclouds said she was first inspired to make a version of the dalgona drink for non-coffee lovers like herself. Using a handheld frother, she combined a packet of pink lemonade-flavored Kool-Aid and heavy whipping cream, using the resulting fluffy mixture as a topping for a regular glass of store-bought lemonade. She described the drink as a “cool sorbet” or “lemonade creamsicle.”

Since then, other variations of the recipe have circulated, though it remains to be seen whether this is an innovation that can be prepared in a ready-to-drink form. A user called @mtlajeunesse shared a version that incorporates ice, whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk, and fresh squeezed lemon juice, blended together to form a creamy, sweet treat. Other takes on the drink use powdered lemonade mixes instead of fresh juice, or add ingredients like egg, coconut milk, fresh fruit, or alcohol—which brings us to our last lemonade concoction.

 

5. Lemonade, But For Adults

When life gives you lemons, add alcohol! Hard lemonade seems to be the next frontier for the hard alternative market. While not new to the beverage alcohol sector, hard lemonade has been getting more attention as big brands seek out additional avenues of differentiation.

A refreshing beverage in its own right, hard lemonade has grown up from the sugary and syrupy concoctions of the past. Modern adaptions of hard lemonade are now much lighter on the palate and waistline, prioritizing flavor and ingredient quality over sweetness.

Big brands like Truly and Bud Light released their collections of hard lemonade and many other beverage companies—big and small—have since followed suit.

The sweet spot in ABV and calories for these products tends to mirror that of hard seltzer, with most hard alternatives clocking in at around 5% ABV and 100 calories per can. Flavors also model many of those popularized by hard seltzer—think black cherry, peach, and mango.

Among the latest ingredient shortages at Starbucks, there’s no doubt that lemonade is trending. As more brands pop up on the market, make sure you’re doing what you can to set your beverage up for success. Like lemonade, the recipe is simple: bold flavors, quality ingredients, a unique twist, and the right beverage development partner.

Have a great idea for a new RTD lemonade? Flavorman’s team of experts can help you bring it to life and change what the world is drinking. Get started by filling out this form or giving us a call at (502) 273-5214.

 

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