Proposed Size Limit on Soft Drinks Poorly-Received by Americans

Darin Ezra, a beverage consultant at Power Brands, has reviewed a new Gallup poll which asked (American) participants about a law that would limit soft drinks and other “sugary beverages” in restaurants to 16 ounces or less. By a roughly two-to-one margin, those who took part in the poll would not vote for such a law.

Allowing for a small margin of error, 69% said they would vote against it, 30% would vote for it, and 2% had no opinion.

The poll was conducted from June 15th-16th, amidst the “Bloomberg Ban” being struck down the day before it was set to take effect. The “Bloomberg Ban,” of course, was a proposal by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that was nearly identical to the one used for the poll. The city of New York has made national headlines in recent months concerning the ongoing legal battle, also reviewed by Darin Ezra, with proponents of the ban citing goals of reducing diabetes and obesity rates and opponents criticizing what they consider to be unnecessary government intervention in the private lives of citizens.

Statistics were obtained from categorizing the results by race, income, and political identification/ideology; of these subgroups, not one casted a majority of the votes in support of the proposed ban. Republicans were most opposed to the ban, with 78% voting against it and only 21% in favor. Democrats, although slightly less inclined to oppose it at 62% to 37%, still stood against the proposal by a substantial margin. Accordingly, 75% of those who identified as “conservative” were not in favor, compared to a much smaller majority of 57% among those who identified as “liberal.” At any level of annual household income, no more than 41% voted in support of the proposal.

According to Darin Ezra, there are a number of contributing factors to the strong opposition to banning beverages of certain sizes. Certain types of soda and coffee, if sweetened, could potentially be subjected to the proposed limits. This is important because of their prevalence; according to a separate Gallup poll, nearly half of all Americans drink soda daily and two-thirds drink coffee daily. Depending on the specific guidelines, such a ban could have very widespread effects which some soda- and coffee-drinkers may be inclined to oppose.

Then, of course, there is an issue of personal liberty which lies at the heart of this ongoing battle. Many who oppose regulations of this nature simply do so on the basis of freedom; is the government justified in attempting to regulate legal, non-alcoholic beverages based only on a notion of “promoting health and wellness?” Even if certain regulations are appealing to the public, could they perhaps serve as useful recommendations without applying to all individuals by law? Or must they be implemented through law in order to achieve maximum effectiveness?

The American public, growing increasingly aware of the importance of proper nutrition, will likely determine the direction in which this legal battle will gradually go, propositions and all.

Power Brands Looks at 2013-2014 Beverage Trends

Power Brands Consulting beverage specialist Darin Ezra reviews the current state of the beverage industry and the most important trends that will influence it in 2013 and 2014. Ezra pointed out to experts present at the Healthy Beverage Expo (HBE), held in Las Vegas, which expect to see a rise in the popularity of healthy alcoholic drinks, as producers strive to reduce calorie contents and add vitamins and natural ingredients. Kim Jage, sales and marketing director for the Expo believes that wine infused with botanicals (such as ginseng and goji berries), which has been produced in China for over a century, will rise in popularity due to its perceived health benefits. Jage speculated that the increasing demand from consumers for healthier products will drive many producers to develop non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) products and used Gizmo Beverages as an example, the manufacturer launching a new line of premium cocktail beverages produced only with fresh ingredients.

Jage predicted that there will be an emergence of “multifunctional” beverages, such as healthy energy drinks and more beverages advertising increased health benefits (for the brain and bones especially). She also believes that there will be an increase in electrolyte-enhanced water products with no artificial flavors and products that combine fruits and coconut for their health benefits. Due to them containing essential fatty acids, including omega-3s, Jage believes that healthy ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages will also grow in popularity. On top of that, the expert believes in the revitalization of lemonade beverages in the following years, pointing to their simplicity and their inherited health benefits from the high antioxidants and dietary fiber content. Lastly, she predicted that natural flavorings and sweeteners will become more widely used in the industry given the consumers’ increased attention to a product’s calorie content. This will lead to a steep decline in the following years for beverages containing high fructose corn syrup, according to the expert. An advisory board member for HBE, Phil Lempert agrees with Jage and speculated that alternative sweeteners like the monk fruit will become so widely used in the industry that it will overtake stevia usage.

Experts at the conference forecasted that consumers will start trying bolder flavors, giving rise to gastronomically seasoned beverages (with hints of ginger, turmeric and sea salt) as well as functional beverages aimed at the under-18 market (such as healthy relaxants and wake-me-ups).  Darin Ezra of Power Brands mentioned healthy, ready-to-drink coffee that offer a better taste with low calorie content and are produced only with natural ingredients as another product that might become popular in the following years.

Power Brands Reviews the Benefits of Coconut Water

Darin Ezra, a beverage consultant at Power Brands, reviews coconut water research presented at an Experimental Biology conference held in Boston. According to the research team, led by Dr. Cathy Kapica, replacing non-nutritional beverages that have high calorie content with coconut water represents an improvement in the average diet in the United States. The research conducted at Trufts University, close to Boston, found that a large part of the population consumes non nutritional beverages (such as carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks, sport drinks and fruit drinks) daily. By replacing those products with coconut water, they observed that consumers would have lower calorie and sugar intake and an increase in magnesium and potassium absorption, two nutrients that are important, but rarely found in a US diet, according to Dr. Kapica.

Ezra points out that potassium is very important in a healthy diet. The beverage specialist emphasized that the average US diet doesn’t have nearly enough potassium in it, which usually found in fruits and vegetables.

Researchers specified that they used Vita Coco products, as the company sponsored the study. Therefore, the findings are specific to the company’s unique products, according to Kapica. The researcher pointed out that Vita Coco does not use coconut water from concentrate. They also prefer controlling their own coconut production, resulting in products with the full nutritional content of the fluid in the coconut.

According to the Power Brands specialists, an 8.5 oz serving contains only 60 calories, which is half the amount found in the typical full calorie soda. On top of that, Ezra adds, Vita Coco also contains 515 mg of potassium plus almost double the daily recommended intake of Vitamin C.

Research used dietary data provided by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in What We Eat in America (2007-2010) and it involved over 11,000 participants, aged 19 and over. The study analyzed the effects of using Vita Coco products instead of a wide range of products, including sports/energy drinks, carbonated soft drinks, milk drinks, coffee & tea, water, alcohol and misc. beverages. They discovered significant differences in the intake of sugar (14 grams less) and calories (36 kcal less), while increasing nutrient absorption: vitamin C (by 186 mg ), calcium (by 49 mg), phosphorus (by 12 mg), magnesium (by 53 mg), iron (by 0.4 mg), sodium (by 120 mg) and potassium (by 805 mg).