Rollout Roundup Slideshow: The First Products of the New Year

Tobacco, beverage, snack categories ripe with new rollouts

Published in Convenience Store Products

By  Steve Dwyer, CSP Reporter

Hershey's Spreads rolled out in three flavors this month

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. -- If CPG companies’ New Year’s resolution was to hit the ground running with compelling launches, they’re succeeding in spades.  Witness the first three weeks of 2014, with new offers filling the pipeline across tobacco, beverage and snack categories.

Not to be a buzz kill, but amid the busy start to 2014 was one product retrenchment, as The Gatorade Co., division of PepsiCo, pulled Gatorade Naturals from retail shelves, according to the Associated Press.

The news agency said PepsiCo had faced legal challenges over use of the word “natural,” and agreed in 2013 to settle a lawsuit by removing “all natural” from its Naked juice packaging.

The same outcome might also have befallen Gatorade Naturals, but in a statement PepsiCo said through “engagement with athletes on their fueling needs, we found that Gatorade Naturals and G2 Naturals did not resonate with this core consumer.”

There was some resonating going on, though, and it came in the form of PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew Kickstart. Launched in 2013 for the morning day part, Kickstart recently rolled out two new flavors, Black Cherry and Limeade, and positioned them for the nocturnal consumer. Both consist of 5% real fruit juice, electrolytes and 80 calories per 16-ounce can.

Meantime, a brand extension from The Coca-Cola Co. combines the quest for nutrition with that of refreshment. Minute Maid added Minute Maid Tropical Blend and Minute Maid Berry Blend flavors to its Juices To Go Line. Packaged in 15.2-ounce single-serve bottles, the blends are the first in the line to contain vegetable juice. Tropical Blend features carrot, pear, mango and pineapple juices, and Berry Blend contains pear, grape, purple carrot, pumpkin, beet, blueberry, raspberry and strawberry juices.

Staying on the health-plus-refreshing tip is zero-calorie Sparkling ICE, which expanded to 11 flavors with Cherry Limeade and Strawberry Watermelon. During a webinar hosted by Wells Fargo Securities last week, Kevin Klock, CEO of parent company Talking Rain Beverage Co., said Sparkling ICE has grown so rapidly that top retailers often amass 100 cases a week sold, with some regularly facing out-of-stocks after miscalculating sales velocity. Retailers are regularly placing it on promotion, as Sparkling ICE is a “traffic-builder,” he said.  

A preponderance of innovation emanated from the tobacco category, with safety and security joining other core values. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Vapor Corp. unveiled the working prototype of the Vapor X personalized, rechargeable vaporizer (“high-end cousin” of the disposable electronic cigarette) unit with patent-pending fingerprint lock technology, which incorporates biometrics to keep the device locked and turned off unless the authorized user is present. It will be available in the second half of 2014.

In another nod to safety, 21st Century Smoke rolled out Vapin Plus E-liquids, and vaporizer pen, complete with a chip to enable automatic shut-off. Coming in 15-ml size bottles, the e-juice has child-proof caps for added safety.

The Clearette Electronic Cigarette Co. has a troika of activity—welcoming a new exec, acquiring manufacturing and distribution company Blackstone Distribution, and rolling out the Clearette Bullet. With Bullet, the puff count is technically less, but offers the highest concentration of nicotine in Clearette’s portfolio at a lower price point.

The merger with Blackstone enhances retail scale, as the distributor network can build and strengthen relationships with the Clearette brand now in tow—offering a multitude of other items at the point of sale.

Zoom E-Cigs launched Zoom electronic cigarettes—disposable and non-rechargeable in tobacco and menthol flavors, and featuring a soft-tip filter. And Harvest Vapor’s e-liquid portfolio now includes Virginia Tobacco, American Blend Tobacco, Dark Fruit and Coffee flavors—each in a convenient dropper bottle for ease of use.

Migrating to snacks, CPGs are responding to people’s desire for mini-meals and everyday indulgences. Hershey's Spreads are available in Chocolate, Chocolate with Almond and Chocolate with Hazelnut flavors. Spreads can be paired with graham crackers, strawberries or bananas, celery, pineapple or even pickles, according to the manufacturer.

Kellogg Co. is rolling out products encompassing cereal, snacks and frozen foods—all touching on demand for taste, nutrition and convenience. Two available to c-store retailers are Pringles Tortilla Crisps in Original, Nacho Cheese and Southwestern Ranch flavors, and Cheez-It Grooves, debuting in June in Zesty Cheddar Ranch and Sharp White Cheddar varieties.

In response to the growing popularity of sweet and salty flavor mashups, Snyder’s of Hanover added Cinnamon Sugar and Salted Caramel varieties to its existing line of Flavored Pretzel Pieces.

What else will the New Year bring? If the first few weeks are any indication, we expect a steady stream of e-cigarettes and e-juices, both healthy and indulgent foods and brand extensions highlight bold flavors.