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Drinking in Anuga 2011

Day Two of this amazing expo. The official visitor figures are put at 150 000 people over five days, but such is the density of bipods on KolnMesse’s acres, they must surely all be here today.

Sunday’s allocated task is to tackle Hall 8: Drinks. Come and drink in Anuga!

Drinks at AnugaEVERY DRINK OF EVERY KIND is on show here, and there’s daunting competition in every sector. Hall 8, too, is but one showcase of beverages, for those who opt to display their wares in this dedicated area.

Beer, wine, spirits, fruit juice, energy drinks, alcopops, soft drinks, functional drinks and so on, they are all here and some. But here’s what piqued my interest….

The mantra spoken on every stand is no preservatives, no colourings, no artificial flavours, natural, healthy, wholesome… These are the new parameters, the new norm, the given, and everyone goes out of their way to tell you that, even if meaningful definitions of all these descriptors are wanting, as they mostly are.

Hot Blood

Bulzai

The first in-your-face beverages are yes, energy drinks. One soon loses count of how many, old and new, that are strutting their sexy, butch, aggro, über-cool, fast-car, funky, street punk and so on stuff.

One distributor in Germany reports that while Red Bull still owns 70% of the domestic market, there are at least over 200 other brands scrabbling it out for the balance. MaskHe reckons there are more than 10 000 brands on the global marketplace.

But this sector is still a pup, and all punters seem confident that  they can steal some more of Red Bull’s mojo. One soon gets bored of them, especially as they really have nothing new to offer apart from brand appeal/ad spend to determine their difference, however their brand owners might try and persuade otherwise. And they all have the familiar taste of acid cough mixture/faux raspberry.

But it must be remembered, this is a global expo, with interested buyers from every corner of the world. Room for all perchance, or not?

In fact, a fellow food industry journalist from New Zealand who has been to every Anuga in the past 20 years, reckons this year the numbers of energy me-toos with their all-too-often tacky monikers are significantly less than in the energy-hyped years of the early noughties.

http://www.mask-energy.com/

http://www.bulzaienergy.com/

The next striking observation is packaging, as always a fundamental and  popular differentiator: the over-riding trend for drinks at Anuga is one  of clean, simple, sophisticated, uncluttered design.

Less is more, and the more understated, the stronger the message.

It yells elegance,  trust, authenticity and class. Lovely stuff.

Left: MAO fruit juices from Austria.

Gin
Left: One key gin from Singapore, but made in Slovenia. Below: Heavy Water energy drink from Germany.

Heavy Water


Nutty about coconut!

Coconut is suddenly noticeably by its presence. And it’s really not so sudden – it has been moving up the popularity scale for three or four years now.

The whole world has started a new love affair with this workhorse plant/fruit/water of the tropics. It’s also moving beyond water and fruit-blend beverages and there are many offerings of coconut oil, sugar, butter, milk, cream at Anuga.

Taste and health benefits are the key positionings, while saturated fat is not given a mention.

When are we going to see some coconut beverages debut in SA?

Cocofruit

My pick of the products was the Cocofruit range from Brazil, without doubt one of the best-tasting juice blends I’ve ever tasted.

www.cocofruit.com

Smooze

Smooze Iceberg, from Singapore but made for export only, is a popular coconut/real fruit juice-puree blend fruit ice, packaged in Tetra Pak.

Excellent mouthfeel and taste profiles.

www.smooze.com.sg

Kulau

Beautiful product and packaging from German company, Kulau.

www.kulau.de

Fix Coconut Water

Cocofina

Even though the beneficial qualities of coconut water have been known for aeons, Western society has largely failed to tap into their powerful source of refreshment – until now.

Coconut water has a flat taste, but these products have added elements, such as lemon juice and flavour, to create a fresh, acceptable and balanced drinks.

Above: Fix, from UK company, DrinkFix, and Cocofina, also from the UK, are punted on their refreshing, rehydration, isotonic nature – the salt and sugar coconut water contains are similar to that found in the human body.

www.drinkfix.com and www.cocofina.com

Catch up on some excellent analysis of the coconut trend on FOODStuff SA here:

Villain coconut oil charms health food world

Coconut waters enjoy soaring sales

Functional beverages are still present, but not abundant this year, probably thanks to EFSA’s big ‘nay’ on hundreds of wannabe health claims. But these caught my attention.
Mellowmood

Time to chill
Marley Mellowmood is an American collaboration with the family of the late, great Rasta maan.

To calm mind, body and spirit, they contain hops, lemon balm, chamomile and rose hip.

www.marleysmellowmood.com

Lull Relax Drink

The big ‘relax’ trend was much apparent, such as this stylishly packaged option, Lull, devised by a UK marketer and just launched in time for Anuga.

Lull is described as a “lightly sparkling, 100% natural soft drink, designed to help you relax. It is balanced and clean on the palate, with a subtle, natural sweetness and the deliciously distinctive taste of lavender, kiwi and blackberry”.

It has only 45 cals/250ml bottle.

www.drinklull.com

All I need tea

A very striking pack, whose developer says matches its contents.

A typically Austrian innovation (Austrians, I was told, are very aware of health), it contains green tea, acai, aronia, ginger and agave (for sweetness) – with the aim of “ensuring a holistic stimulation and improvement of the physical and mental well-being”

www.allineed.at

Rey Drink

More beautiful packaging, an aluminium bottle, also from Austria.

Rey Drink is touted as “Sunshine for your brain and body”, and is a new functional drink combining biopolyphenols, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B complex, vitamans E and C.

It claims to boost concentration, physical performance and immune defence, to help hair and nail growth, and abet skin health and anti-ageing. Quite some beverage!

The name is a derivation of the Egyptian sun god, Re, and a combination of it and the word, ray.

www.drink-rey.at

Hold the liquor
There is plenty of evidence at Anuga of the move to adult soft drinks, and to alcohol-free alternatives.

One prominent wine range, sans alcohol, is from French company, Night Orient.

It was launched last year at SIAL where it won an innovation award and is reportedly doing very well in Middle Eastern countries, not unsurprisingly.

It tastes pretty good, but the endeavour to take out alcohol, without impacting organoleptics, remains, so far, impossible. I wonder how this would fare in a blind tasting?

www.nightorient.com

Night Orient

Introducing finger limes! This indigenous Australian citrus fruit is arguably one of the year’s biggest ‘finds’, generating lots of headlines and winning the top innovation award at FruitLogistica in Berlin earlier in 2011.

It’s at Anuga, in the drinks hall, introduced by Wild Hibiscus Flower Company, Sydney. Owner, Lee Etherington is the proud developer of a means to process (using high pressure in collaboration with Oz’s CSIRO) the fruit to produce a long-life product that retains its shape and colour, and still have pods that emit a marked ‘pop’ of flavour when squished in the mouth.

Other processing methods ie freezing, reportedly render the pods a dull yellow-brown.

finger limes

Lee had prototype packages on the stand, but no pics are yet available. Anuga is trial launch phase, and it will be rolled out commercially anon.

Adding zest and interest to fine fare and sexy cocktails, this citrus caviar is the hottest new accessory for chefs and cocktail baristas.

Lee, by the way, was embarrassed at the Wallabies’ win – but weren’t we all!

www.freshburst.com

Now I’ve seen it all!

Just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all, you go to Anuga, and again realise that this will never be the case.

My product of the giant drinks hall has to go to LaObamas, for its black garlic beverage. I kid you not, and this is not even out of the “only in Japan” box, but from Switzerland.

It tasted, well, interesting, and even pleasant. It has no lingering aftertaste either, I was assured by the delightful Oliver LaObamas who has even promoted his products in SA (at July’s Big Seven expo in Gauteng), and is interested in doing so again.

black garlic

Black garlic is the fermented version of regular garlic, and it has a myriad of health and taste benefits. Read more at:

www.laobamas.com

That’s it from the Drinks hall, now to tackle Dairy and the SA Pavillion.

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