PepsiCo has made some big moves in beverages recently, acquiring SodaStream in August for more than $3bn, making a ‘strong statement’ about its commitment to sustainability. It signaled its entrance to the at-home beverage market and response to consumer demands for more healthy, sustainable drinks.
It also launched new water brands Lifewtr and Bubly, which are reportedly on pace to achieve more than $200m and $100m in measured retail sales in 2018, respectively. It all expands the PepsiCo portfolio to more health-focused, low-sugar beverages that are flooding the market.
Plant-based growth continues
Now it turns its focus to plant-based drinks within one of its most established brands. Quaker Oats is known for its signature oat products, including overnight oats, instant oatmeal and Chewy granola bars. In January it will debut its first beverage option with the launch of Quaker Oat Beverage.
The new oat-based dairy alternative line will come in Original, Original Unsweetened and Vanilla flavors, rolling out to grocery chains nationwide throughout 2019. Brian Hannigan, a marketing director at PepsiCo, spoke to DairyReporter about Quaker’s decision to delve into beverages for the first time.
“As the brand continues to evolve to meet the demands of today’s nutrition-forward consumers, we’re always looking for new and innovative ways for people to experience the benefits of oats. And with more consumers gravitating towards a plant-based lifestyle, we’re able to help meet their needs by offering a new heart healthy plant-based beverage,” he said.
He cited that 60% of Americans are reducing their consumption of animal products, 60% of US adults drink non-dairy beverages and 39% of Americans are actively trying to eat more plant-based foods.
“Given this momentum we’re anticipating more consumers will continue to gravitate towards a plant-based lifestyle, and we’re optimistic we’ll continue to see growth within this category. To that end, we’re thrilled to be venturing into a new category with a point of difference, backed by the power of Quaker, that we believe consumers will be excited about,” Hannigan said.
Clarifying ‘milk’ labels
Hannigan shared that the drinks are a good source of calcium, vitamin D, and fiber from oat bran and chicory root extract. They are completely lactose-free and contain between 30-50 calories per 8oz serving. The brand is recommending that it be enjoyed alone, or mixed into other products like smoothies, cereal and coffee.
An important distinction with Oat Beverage is its avoidance of the ‘milk’ label that’s caused a backlash the dairy community. Companies producing milk alternatives often refer to their drinks as ‘almond milk’, ‘soy milk’ and similar.
Quaker said it felt the need to address this new standard with its product and stand apart from the pack of dairy alternatives already on the market.
“It was important to differentiate ourselves from the dairy category, as Quaker Oat Beverage is a nutritious plant-based beverage offering a number of nutritional benefits,” Hannigan said.