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The holiday season is a great time to talk about food and drink!  Over the last few years the global beverage industry not only continues to grow, but has been undergoing transformation.

The industry is evolving, driven by consumers who are looking for healthy, organic options in juices, teas, sodas and functional drinks. At the same time, many people also are looking for on-the-go convenience.

The growth of the global beverage manufacturing sector is being fueled by increased consumer demand and awareness towards health and wellness-oriented beverage products. There are many examples of this growth phenomenon in the last year.

Even though soda sales may be slowing, water sales are increasing substantially. According to a recent Mintel International report, flavored water accounted for more than half of the beverage product launches in North America last year.

Coca-Cola Co.’s Glaceau Vitaminwater Zero made the largest strides in the still bottled water segment with multifold increase in sales. PepsiCo’s SoBe Lifewater Zero also is growing healthily and has added to the enhanced water segment with the release of two new varieties: Strawberry Kiwi Lemonade and Macintosh Apple. Sounds delicious.

Sparkling waters also are posting positive numbers and the category segment is growing. All brands in the Top 10 of this group experienced sales growth, with the largest coming from TalkingRain Beverage Co.’s Sparkling Ice brand. Sparkling Ice carbonated water is made with spring water and natural fruit juices, is artificially sweetened and contains zero calories. The company says the drink offers healthy B vitamins, vitamin D, green tea extracts and antioxidants.

When water isn’t enough to quench your thirst, there is also a growing emergence of new branded lines of all-natural and organic enhanced juices, teas and sodas. These new drinks claim to give the body the nutrients it needs without sacrificing taste.

If you haven’t heard of them, some of the brands that make up this market landscape include Honest, R.W. Knudsen, Santa Cruz Organic, Purity Organic, Flavrz and Steaz. These slightly sweetened beverages often are filled with herbal extracts, minerals and antioxidants and can come in premixed, liquid concentrate, or even powdered formats that can be added to water for portable convenience when traveling. Some of these options claim to provide functional benefits of natural energy and immunity-boosting vitamins and minerals.

Finally there are consumers who are sensitive to environmental issues and want their beverage options also to deal with the issue of landfill pollution. They want beverage manufacturers to be more eco-friendly.

Manufacturers are responding and taking up these concerns with new materials and packaging. Thinner containers and ones made with biodegradable materials are being increasingly used. Beverage companies are becoming serious about their sustainable sourcing strategies.

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