Industry News | May 20, 2006

A Drinking Tour of McCormick Place

After an exhaustive round of sampling the (non-alcoholic) beverages available at NRA, we're ready to share a few that should be of interest to quick-serve operators.

Okay, we haven't really sampled everything available --- yet. After all, the show is only a few hours old. But armed with a guide to the products being launched in Chicago, we ferretted out a number of products suitable for this segment.

Getting straight to the heart of the matter, tea continues to be hot. Adagio Teas unveiled four varieties in a bottled, ready-to-drink format: Green, Black, White, and Jasmine. The only ingredients are tea, water, and vitamin C. Madura Tea Estates is now offering its varieties in individually foil-wrapped packages, including Green Tea with Papaya, Green Tea with Mint, and Green Tea with Lemon. The Republic of Tea introduced its Iced Pomegranate Green Tea, combining two of today's hottest beverage trends, while Tempest Tea debuted Green U, a green tea energy drink. Taking tea to the max, Pure Inventions introduced Liquid Green Tea Extracts, one dropper of which provides the antioxidant equivalent of 14 cups of brewed green tea.

Drinking chocolates are another big item here. Cora Italian Specialtieshas released Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Premium Hot Cocoa, which is Ghirardelli's first water-soluble hot cocoa offering. Mont Blanc Gourmet rolled out Haut Chocolate, while Schokinag Chocolate released the exotic Moroccan Spice Drinking Chocolate, which blends aromatic spices with dark and milk chocolate.

Coffee products continue to be popular as well. Both Brewmatic and Leodoro Coffee Systems debuted automatic espresso machines that operate essentially at the touch of a button, meaning no need for special staff training. Continuing the simplicity theme, Ideal Espresso introduced Vesso, an espresso concentrate that is ground fresh and cold-brewed, allowing for coffeehouse-style drinks without additional equipment. Meanwhile, S&D Coffee rolled out Shock Coffee, which the company describes as "the world's first hyper-caffeinated gourmet coffee."

In product news, Green-Line Products demonstrated the Sur-Seal, a lidding system that tops beverage cups with a specially printed shrink film. The Sur-Seal also took honors in the 2005 QSR/FPI Foodservice Packaging Awards.

Finally, Ardea Beverage debuted the intriguing airforce Nutrisodas, which combine natural fruit flavors, natural colors, and nutrients with water that's been filtered four times and carbonated. The company touts the product as "a major upgrade in terms of both taste and health."

Coming tomorrow: A look at some of the top new food products.

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