Leftovers: Pepsi combines cola and mango with newest flavor; Harpoon takes a swing at better-for-you beer

Source: fooddive.com

Leftovers is our look at a few of the product ideas popping up everywhere. Some are intriguing, some sound amazing and some are the kinds of ideas we would never dream of. We can’t write about everything that we get pitched, so here are some leftovers pulled from our inboxes.

Pepsi Mango: A perfect match?

Pepsi knows the first addition to its permanent beverages lineup in five years is a bit surprising. The company says as much in its press release.

Surprising or not, the cola maker is doubling down on its new beverage flavor, mixing Pepsi’s well-known cola taste with tropical mango flavor. Pepsi Mango will be available nationwide starting on March 22, in both a regular and Zero Sugar variety.

“Our team has created a surprisingly perfect match with Pepsi Mango, combining the delicious taste of Pepsi cola with the flavor of a sweet, juicy mango,” Todd Kaplan, vice president of marketing for Pepsi, said in the release. 

More than 40 million tons of mangoes are harvested worldwide each year, according to WorldAtlas. Although it’s now grown throughout the world, mango tends to be associated with warm, tropical locations.

The fruit has also become one of the most popular new flavors to add to beverages, especially in the alcohol space. AB InBev’s Golden Road, D.G. Yuengling and Son and Molson Coors’ Blue Moon all have mango-flavored versions.

But will the fruit be a good addition to cola? Pepsi doesn’t have far to look — its rival Coca-Cola piloted the combo with Twisted Mango Diet Coke in 2018. The product is no longer available, and reviews showed little enthusiasm for the flavor combo. Some thought it was too sweet, some found it pointless and still others found it surprisingly refreshing.

However, Pepsi Mango provides one thing in Pepsi’s favor: a chance for the masses to try its flavor innovations. In the past two years, Pepsi has produced several new flavors of its namesake soda, including Cocoa Cola, Apple Pie and Sparkling Rosé. These were all very limited offerings, so most soda drinkers probably did not get to have a taste. With this launch, unlike Chris Kattan’s ’90s-era namesake SNL character, everyone can have the Pepsi Mango.

— Megan Poinski


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Courtesy of Harpoon Brewery


Harpoon beer swings for the fences with better-for-you ingredients

As consumers place a greater emphasis on the ingredients that go into making their favorite foods and beverages, Harpoon Brewery is hoping its latest release is a homerun.

The newest addition to the Boston brewery’s family of beers is the Harpoon Big League IPA, a 7.2% alcohol by volume offering made with healthier ingredients like chia seeds, buckwheat kasha and Mediterranean sea salt. 

The beer is the lighter cousin to its Rec. League beer, but the brewers at Harpoon took the hazy pale ale recipe and doubled everything for a juicy, hazy IPA featuring four different hops.

“Following a year where people were more often at home, we knew we needed to give them a way to celebrate the small moments that turned into big wins, without feeling like they’ve overindulged,” Dan Kenary, CEO and co-founder of Harpoon Brewery, said in a statement. “Big League is our answer to that.”

The new beer comes as Americans are taking a stronger interest in health and wellness — trends that have accelerated during the pandemic — without wanting to give up their favorite foods and drinks. 

A survey of nearly 950 people by Harpoon Brewery echoed this finding. It noted 68% of Americans are more focused on healthy eating and drinking habits now compared to a year ago. 

When describing their approach to wellness during the pandemic, 44% of millennials said they make better food and drink choices than they did before the pandemic, compared to 34% of Gen Xers, the survey found. At the same time, half of millennials and a quarter of Gen Xers say that better-for-you ingredients impact their decision more now when selecting a craft beer compared to a year ago.

Large brewers have latched onto the better-for-you movement too, with lower calorie and no- or low-alcohol beers. Constellation Brands, distributor of Corona, launched Corona Premier while AB InBev has Michelob Ultra Pure Gold. Both higher-priced, lower-calorie beers are aimed at “more sophisticated” beer drinkers.

In the past, Harpoon Brewery has also produced a beer with Dunkin’, a pastry-inspired collaboration with Mike’s Pastry made with real cannoli shells, and an offering made in barrels that once held premier aged rye whiskey. 

While consumers continue to gravitate toward these novel brews — products that are synonymous with the creativity expected in the craft space — they also sometimes want to feel good about what goes into their bodies. Harpoon Big League IPA gives the brewery a bigger presence in both categories depending on the beer drinker’s preference or the occasion in which they are consuming a beer.

— Christopher Doering


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Courtesy of National Beverage Corp


New LaCroix options have some ‘taste!!’

With summer just around the corner, LaCroix has debuted new flavors that the exuberant sparkling water brand says are “beyond taste!!” and “ready to ‘burn down’ store shelves,” including Beach Plum, Black Razzberry and Guava São Paulo. They will launch at select retailers and hit grocery store shelves nationwide this spring.

It’s been a little over one year since the sparkling water giant rolled out new flavors, and now has a total of 30 options for consumers to choose from. They follow two springtime flavors, LimonCello and Pastèque, which debuted in 2020. And this time, LaCroix continues to emphasize the beverages’ use of natural essences and the brand’s good will.

“LaCroix is committed to bring joy and good health to America through creative innovation. We aspire to delight our loyal consumers with unique and delicious taste and beautiful packaging — along with a boost of faith, trust and authenticity,” a company spokesman said in a statement.

This could be a nod to a 2018 lawsuit that accused the brand of falsely labeling its drinks as “100% natural”  when it claimed chemicals like ethyl butanoate, limonene and linalool propionate had been found in the beverages. While the lawsuit was later dropped, this still led to National Beverage Corp.’s stock to drop 44% between February and July 2019. 

The brand has also seen its sparkling water competitors bridge out into the alcohol space. Coca-Cola’s Topo Chico brand is launching a hard seltzer in the U.S. in 2021. Just last week, sparkling water brand Spindrift unveiled its own hard seltzer.

But LaCroix made its own nod to liqueurs in the naming of its Limoncello and Pastèque varieties. And its newest flavors could arguably be just as newsworthy, with flavors inspired by locations with Guava São Paolo and tapping into fruits that aren’t common in the sparkling water space like Beach Plum, which also harkens to the brand’s Florida roots.

Sparkling water remains a big business and is worth an estimated $27.59 billion in 2020, according to a report by Grand View Research. WIth its three newest flavors, LaCroix is banking on its diehard fans to give it a boost in this growing segment.

— Barbara Smith