redleaf Expand Sponsorship Deal With Calgary Flames

courtesy of redleaf water's facebook fan page

The National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames franchise and the Saddledome has signed a supplier contract with redleaf waters.  “Redleaf Water is a natural fit within our organization,” says Jim Bagshaw, VP marketing of the Calgary Flames Limited Partnership. “We’re proud to be supporting our fellow Canadians, while serving ultra-premium water to our players and fans.”

Already available at the Saddledome the past two years, redleaf now becomes the only water available for sale within the venue for customers.  The expanded agreement gives redleaf more exposure within the hockey arena, with redleaf signage and logos displayed on the score clock, video board, and behind the opponent’s hockey bench as well as being mentioned as the scoring summary sponsor for the end of period annoucements.

redleaf claims they are a ultra premium water supplier because of their purification process, but I fail to fully understand how their process distinguishes them from many other players.  The only interesting fact that jumps out is their pH factor of 8.3. Distilled water has a pH factor of 7.0 and redleaf’s water adds more oxygen content to bring up the pH levels.  Their claim is that tap water and other bottled waters have a lower pH level (closer to the 7.0), but 8.3 makes the water more basic, or turns it into hard water.  In that case, what’s the point?  Consumers faced with hard water use a softener to make the water return closer to a 7.0 pH level.

Aside from the pH level, I more interested about the other non-alcoholic beverage operator for the Calgary franchise and arena.  This other sponsor could very well be Coca-Cola (seeing that the Saddledome website has a picture of a family drinking a Coca-Cola beverage) and they produce Dasani and glaceau smartwater.  Sporting venues are typically exclusive operators for one beverage company to maintain higher profits and limit competition, and the contract should call for exclusivity with all beverages that the operator can provide.  If this is the case, how is redleaf able to circumvent exclusivity?  It is possible the contract is proportioned to section out water, carbonated soft drinks, sports beverages, energy drinks and so on, but wouldn’t Coca-Cola want to maintain exclusivity for all beverages?  If water is a different supplier, what about energy drinks (anyone know if Red Bull is available instead of Monster or Full Throttle)?  A sectioned out contract that leaves each beverage category separate for bidding is indeed a smart move for the Calgary hockey team and arena, but this may raise issues where pricing is concerned.  If no particular company holds sole operator privileges, why provide them with the best possible price?

Alcoholic Energy Drinks Officially Banned in the United States

Rockstar Vodka

Two weeks ago I blogged about alcoholic energy drinks being investigated for their caffeine content and whether it was safe for consumers (link here).  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently came to a decision to fully ban the alcoholic beverages for sale.  A decision by Health Canada is very likely to follow and drive these beverages out of the market.

Alcoholic energy drinks has not received as much negative publicity in Canada compared to the United States, so Canadian may not be fully aware of the negative effects.  In the U.S., university students consuming these beverages at parties and other friendly functions have been hospitalized because of these beverages.

A quick reminder on what the issue is with these drinks.  Alcoholic beverages are depressants meant to slow down the blood flow, while caffeinated beverages are meant to speed up blood flow.  When combined together, consumers don’t realize they are getting drunk because of the caffeine additive, leading to overdosing and other dangerous consequences.

At last check, Health Canada was investigating whether these beverages were safe.  Some are still available for sale in Canada because the caffeine content is derived from a natural ingredient or from the cola portion of the beverage.  With this American decision to ban the drink, Health Canada may soon follow with their decision to also ban the drink.

New Jones Holiday Soda Flavor: Bacon

Jones Bacon Soda Holiday Pack

Jones Soda Co. has decided to partner with J&D Foods to bring a bacon flavored soda to the market.  Mike Spear, Jones Soda Marketing Director says, “Bacon is like the eighth wonder of the world.  We spend a lot of time listening to our customers on social media sites, and we couldn’t help but take notice of the hundreds of thousands of people taking part in bacon discussion boards and fan groups right now. We felt it was our duty as leaders in the premium soda category to carbonate bacon’s salty goodness.”

Jones Soda releases seasonal flavors each year and have introduced flavors such as Turkey & Gravy, Tofurky & Gravy, Candy Cane,  Pear Tree, and Mele Kalikimaka in previous years.   To develop Bacon Soda, Jones Soda and J&D Foods assigned dedicated personnel to work on bottling the bacon flavor in a carbonated form.

I am fairly impressed at Jones Soda’s innovation and creativity.  Each year they come out with a crazy and attention-grabbing soda flavor.  Who would ever think about bottling bacon into a pop?  I mean, what’s next – Cajun Chicken Soda?  Not to mention Jones Soda pays a lot of attention to detail to the consumer experience.  With their limited edition packaging and consumer-submitted label photos, consumers always want to check out what’s on the Jones Soda bottle.  In addition, by keeping the beverage in a glass bottle, consumers can continue to trust on Jones providing quality and not trading off for lower costs with a plastic bottle.

The bacon soda can be purchased at their both parties’ online stores as part of a holiday pack.  For $10 plus shipping and handling, the holiday pack includes  two bottles of bacon soda, a bag of bacon & cheddar flavored popcorn, a J&D Bacon Lip Balm and a package of J&D’s Bacon Gravy.  Jones seasonal flavors are a little too foreign for my tastebuds, but if someone does pick up a case, please let me know how it tastes!

O.N.E. Kids – Coconut Water and Fruit Juices

ONE coconut water

One Natural Experience (O.N.E), the coconut water natural beverage producer, has recently introduced a coconut water beverage line aimed at refreshing kids.  The beverage has been available in the United States since October and contains low sugar content, as well as a blend of coconut water and fruit juice.  The beverage company – which was acquired by Pepsi earlier in 2010 – is famous for their innovative coconut water offerings.  They produce O.N.E Active, which is a all-natural sports drink combing herbs and minerals with their popular coconut water offering (O.N.E. coconut water).  O.N.E. Kids is their latest innovation.

The question is, how much would parents be willing to pay for this nutritious beverage?  Each 330ml tetrapak is retails at $1.99 individually, and a multipack may only be found at natural food stores or select grocery stores.   A multipack’s price point would likely be close to $20.  Parents can pick up other healthy juice multipacks for a lot less – you’ll likely be able to pick up twice as many multipacks of healthy juices for the price of $20.

In any case, the natural beverage producer is innovating their product line to separate themselves from the other two leading coconut water manufacturers.  Vita Coco and Zico, the other main players in this category, also offer flavored and regular coconut water, but not natural sports drink or a low sugar, youth-friendly alternative.  The category itself is gaining more media exposure as athletes and celebrities support the beverage, recognizing its health benefits.

No word on when O.N.E. Kids will be available in Canada (or if anyone has seen any O.N.E Kids already), but it’s a safe bet that it will be coming to Canada fairly soon.

Alcoholic Energy Drinks Not Approved in Canada

Four Loko

I just recently came across a few news articles about college students in the United States consuming alcoholic energy drinks and became hospitalized.  Many people go to a bar and ask for a Red Bull & Vodka or Jaggerbombs, so you figure mixing energy drinks with alcohol is no big deal.  The students were drinking Four Loko, an alcoholic energy drink with 12% alcohol added to the regular amount of caffeine in an energy drink.  12% alcohol is equal to drinking 3-5 beers, but the effects of this depressant are inhibited by the caffeine, causing inexperienced consumers not to realize that they have reached their alcohol limit.

So what about Canada – are alcoholic energy drinks approved here?  The simple answer is no; Health Canada does not approve of the selling of premixed alcoholic energy drinks.  Taking an approved energy drink (ie. Red Bull), adding alcohol to it, and then offering the mixed beverage for sale is not allowed.  Despite Health Canada saying that premixed alcoholic energy drinks are not approved, consumers can walk into their local alcohol store and buy a Rockstar Vodka or a few select alcoholic energy drinks for the same price as a regular energy drink.  Why is this the case?

Apparently, a loophole exists that allows for certain beverages to be sold despite containing alcohol as part of the energy drink.  For example, the caffeine portion of an energy drink is from a natural ingredient (taurine, guarana, yerba mate, etc) essential to the beverage, so it is permitted.  Premixed variations of rum and cola are also allowed since the caffeine component is derived from the cola and not the alcoholic portion of the beverage.

It might reassure you to know that Health Canada is already conducting reviews on this issue, working to limit the exposure of these drinks to consumers.  The review asks for manufacturers to prove their their beverage’s contents of alcohol and caffeine is safe for consumer.  The review won’t be finalized nor publicized until March 2011, so be selective in the alcoholic energy drinks you consume (if you choose to consume one at all)!