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High Season for Summer Bevs

You have to respect today's supermarket beverage buyer. He or she is getting inundated with new products, promotional deals and merchandising fixtures, while planograms for store shelves need constant review, revision and redistribution. Manufacturers are turning out new and improved mixes, bottles and cans to match consumer demand for convenience and health.

The whole process seems to be going into overdrive this spring. Of course, that's not too surprising when you remember that a lot of the new beverages target kids who, after 10 months cooped up in the classroom, are ready for summer. Kool-Aid, the iconic powdered drink mix, is entering the era of wellness with four reformulated products, and one new one. Among them is Sugar Free Kool-Aid, updated to taste more like regular unsweetened Kool-Aid than the original version, introduced in 1983.

oh-yeah.jpegThe new product is Kool-Aid Burstin' Waters, a ready-to-drink flavored water beverage that comes in a squeezable plastic bottle. Burstin' Waters is caffeine free, comes in three flavors and is only 35 calories per serving.

Three of those on the annual multi-state car trip to see Aunt Ida and that's not the only thing in danger of Burstin'.

For the more mature drinker, there's a new line of six ready-to-drink options from a partnership between Jamba Juice and Nestle USA. On the smoothie side, there's Strawberries Wild w/Energy Boost; Orange Dream Machine w/Immunity; and Banana Berry w/Heart Healthy Boost. The Juice varieties include Orange Strawberry Banana w/Protein Boost; Mango Orange Peach w/Fiber Boost; Very Berry w/Calcium Boost.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing developments in this continuing beverage saga has been the lack of interest by the big companies in rolling out new carbonated soft drinks (sodas, pops — whatever you want to call them). These most recent introductions just go to prove that the heyday of the soda (the term I grew up with in New York) is indeed over. Today it's all about boosted fruit drinks, infused teas and energy concoctions. What'll you have?