7UP gets vitamin boost

Related tags Coca-cola Cadbury schweppes

Dr Pepper/Seven Up (DPSU), the Texas-based drinks division of
Cadbury Schweppes, today announced plans to introduce 7 Up Plus,
said to be the first carbonated beverage to be fortified with
calcium, vitamin C and fruit juice.

The drink will also have a low calorie count and only 3 grams of carbohydrates per serving, allowing it to meet consumer demand for low-carb foods.

"Consumer tastes and lifestyles are changing and 7 Up continues to change with them by providing beverage choices that allow people to have a more balanced lifestyle,"​ said Jim Trebilcock, the senior vice president of marketing at 7 Up.

The company confirmed that this product will have the 7 Up lemon and lime flavour with an added berry taste and will be aimed primarily at "health conscious adults"​, particularly those with families. They therefore expect young people to become interested in the product through their parents.

Mark Lynch, an analyst at Goldman Sachs in London, pointed to changes in Cadbury Schweppes' portfolio and the whole issue of obesity to explain why DPSU have chosen to launch this drink in the American market. Indeed, the company's acquisition of Adams from Pfizer in 2003 for $4.2billion gave it the leading position in functional confectionary and the number two position in gum.

"By making gum and functional sweets they are making a significantly healthier range than they were previously,"​ he told NutraIngredientsUSA.com.

However, he did not see the development of 7 Up Plus or other such drinks as being capable of reducing the cautious view Goldman Sachs has on the whole beverage market.

"Any development in 7 Up is part of a trend and as more companies come on board with similar products the niche will become mainstream. So we do not see a long term view for profit enhancement,"​ he continued.

This new product comes amid heightened consumer awareness of health and well-being issues. Partly due to concerns about calorie content, sales of sugary, fizzy drinks have been on the decline in per capita consumption since a peak in 1998.

Meanwhile, comparatively smaller categories such as water, energy drinks and juice-based drinks have been growing. Some attribute this growth to the health benefits consumers believe they reap from such products.

As Gary Roethenburgh from the British market research company Zenith pointed out, the energy drink Red Bull has been successful because it does exactly what it says on the tin; people feel re-invigorated after they have drunk it. Likewise, consumers claim to have felt real health improvements after a two-week course of probiotic drinks.

With this in mind Roethenburgh added a word of caution, suggesting it may be more difficult to persuade consumers they have experienced a physical difference after drinking a fortified carbonated drink.

However, he added: "Carbonated drinks is a very mature market, which needs to be constantly inovating. We could say fruit twists, such as Coke with lemon, were the trend for 2003. Vitamin-fortified carbonated drinks could become the trend for 2004 and beyond."

Coke Cola and Pepsi last month launched low-calorie and low-carb versions of their well-known brands in the form of C2 and Pepsi Edge.

With the worldwide problem of obesity getting worse, health and well-being issues are only going to gain importance. Taking a lead in this field could increase 7 Up's share of the lemon-lime carbonated drink market. Its 1.2 per cent share last year left it trailing behind Pepsi's Sierra Mist (1.4 per cent) and Coke's Sprite (5.9 per cent), according to Beverage Digest/Maxwell.

A spokesperson for DPSU said the company may produce further fortified drinks, but would first wait to see how 7 Up Plus performs with consumers.

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