Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category

Vietnam – An Oasis of Beverages

Monday, December 9th, 2013
On a recent trip to Vietnam, I had a grand time exploring the vibrant coffee market.  Coffee could be made hot, cold, sweet, un-sweet, from liquid bases and powder bases.  You name it, they made it.  With two coffee shops per block, there is no shortage of a place to sit and have a refreshing iced coffee.  My personal favorite was an iced coffee made from a coffee concentrate, added to sweetened condensed milk and served over ice.  It is terribly sweet, but once the ice melts and dilutes the drink, it’s heaven. In my quest to find a coffee alternative, most restaurants offer the best fresh fruit drinks you’ve ever tasted.  My favorite was a Passionfruit Soda.  The server recommended it as the drink she likes because of the few calories it has.  Naturally, I had to try it.  It was made with real Passionfruit, evidenced by the seeds in the glass, and mixed with 7-up.  It was delightfully refreshing. If you ever have the chance to visit Vietnam, enjoy their coffee scene but explore their other drinks as the fruits there are really sweet and juicy.  I can’t wait to go back and try more!

Feeding my Apple Addiction

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011
I am an Apple(R) addict.  I am an early adopter of all Apple products and I see nothing wrong with owning all iPhone generations and the iPad and iPad2, at the same time.  A forage into my closet doesn’t yield designer shoes, but rather, vintage Apple products, like the Powerbook 145B, and multiple colors of interchangeable track balls that were sold that year. Is it any wonder then, that Eagle Beverage now was an App for the iPad? You can download the app at the App Store.  An App?  For Private Label?  But of course.  How else can our sales team remember each detail of a custom private label program?  The app is designed for food service professionals who are interested in selling a custom private label program for speciality beverages.  It’s nifty because you can see more detail of flavors and actually create your own program.  Do you want to match a brand?  Enter the info in the field.  Do you want choose your capsule color?  Click your color.  Need to print the sales sheets or email directly to the person across the table from you?  Select print, email or download to PDF reader. I’m not recommending that everyone downloads the app.  It is a very specific app for a specific market segment.  In addition to helping our sales team promote private label programs, this app asks the question… how useful are apps for business to business generation?  Or is the market share for one billion plus apps predominantly B to C?  Or did I miss the platform of where B2B apps belong? I should point out that the app is not free and Eagle Beverage does NOT offer refunds for those who download the app because they download everything there is out there whether they need it or not (yes, I know I have 650 apps of which I only actually use about 20).  But we will refund the price of the app if someone actually uses it to create and buy a private label program from us! I am enjoying the process of learning how to integrate technology into the selling of custom foodservice items.  And I have enjoyed learning how Apple has developed a whole platform for the creation, maintenance and distribution of apps.  The reviews from the sales team who have seen the app working have been great.  I really hope I don’t have to buy them all iPads now…!

Conducting a Blind Tasting

Monday, June 13th, 2011
Conducting a blind tasting takes an assortment of skills and a variety of characters.  First, the skills:
  1. Analytical – what do you present to the taster in order to showcase your specialty or unique opportunity?
  2. Organization – how do you present the items to the taster so all items have an equal opportunity to be tasted and evaluated?
  3. Evaluation – how can the taster record and reflect on what they are tasting in order to articulate why they prefer one taste over another?
  4. Presentation – How do you keep it engaging and interesting to the taster?
Now, to the characters
  1. The Innovator – This person likes to “play it by ear” and prepare the tasting on the go.  They typically have a passion for creating something and showing everyone how good it can be.
  2. The Measurer – This person will measure every ¼ ounce using some measuring tool.  They are precision oriented and need each quantity to come out the same.
  3. The Planner – This person will plan the tasting down to last sip and may have a problem if the order needs to be adjusted or changed
Over the next few posts, we will evaluate these issues.  Conducting a taste test is fun and engaging, but it takes a lot of work.

Inside and outside of the Box

Thursday, October 28th, 2010
Louis Pasteur said “Chance favors the prepared mind.” In competition, this is key because most of the time, people only see what they want to see. This is commonly known as “inside the box” and when we all want to highlight our strengths, we identify ourselves as “out of the box thinkers.” I have sat through many interviews discussing with candidates their work ethic and the value they could bring only to hear “I always find solutions, and I think out of the box.” I would like to know what it means to think “out of the box” and to be prepared in the changing landscape of commerce and capitalism. If we are continuously thinking outside the box and preparing our minds for eventualities, will our business be favored? In a product driven company, there are three dimensions of competition – product leadership (otherwise known as innovation), customer knowledge and operational efficiency. If we just look at product innovation, the sad truth is that no-matter what innovative or ground breaking product you are able to bring to market, eventually, someone else will copy it, and most likely do it better. I mention this because recently Sony announced that after 30 years, it was stopping production of the Walkman as it is no longer relevant in the world in iPods and MP3 players. Truthfully, I was surprised it took them this long to make the announcement. In our industry, we watch our competitors and see what new and innovative products they believe will be the “next big flavor” and prepare ourselves for creating innovative and relevant flavors. And then we will watch someone else do it!

Another Holiday tradition has become the post-season diet.

Monday, January 18th, 2010
Another Holiday tradition has become the post-season diet. After gorging ourselves on delectable treats and rich foods for weeks on end – after all, we did not want to discourage the efforts of all those bakers and chefs in our lives – we resolve with the New Year to lose those extra pounds that have suddenly and mysteriously appeared around our mid-sections. Substituting sugar free foods to reduce caloric intake is one option some utilize in this annual endeavor, and there have been several innovations in this field in the past year. One very promising improvement to sugar free foods is the ingredient erythritol, a sugar alcohol that you may have noticed showing up on the ingredient statements of your favorite items. Sugar alcohols appear naturally in some foods, such as cheese, wine, beer, and soy sauce. Erythritol is a naturally-derived sugar substitute made from plant sugars, that looks and tastes similar to sugar. It is about 70% as sweet as sugar, yet it only contains 0.2 calories per gram which is 95% less than sugar. There are other sugar alcohols on the market that have been used as ingredients in sugar free and no sugar added foods, such as sorbitol, maltitol, and xylitol. Like these other sugar alcohols, erythritol has little or no affect on blood sugar or insulin levels for a zero glycemic index. But unlike other sugar alcohols, erythritol doesn’t cause digestive distress when used in reasonable amounts (less than 80 grams per day generally). At Eagle Beverage, we have already successfully formulated coffee syrups, chocolate sauces, and powdered drink mixes using erythritol. Erythritol provides body and thickness to sugar free and no sugar added syrups and has a cooling effect on the palate in the finished product. Watch for more ingredient innovations in the food industry as we all try to cut down on our caloric intake – and good luck with the post-Holiday diets and other New Year’s resolutions!

Glass vs. Plastic

Monday, November 23rd, 2009
Plastic bottles are not as sturdy as glass bottles, which have large implications in the beverage industry. One reason is glass bottles can be hot filled and sealed so that when they cool a vacuum is formed and the concentration of oxygen in the headspace is very low. If you were to attempt a similar process using plastic bottles, the bottle will “panel” as the negative pressure on the inside of the bottle cannot hold up to the outside air pressure. Therefore another method is needed to control the amount of oxygen in the headspace above the beverage in a plastic bottle. One technology is a nitrogen drip. After a bottle is filled with cool (not hot) liquid it passes under the drip which deposits a small amount of liquid nitrogen in the bottle. When the nitrogen hits the liquid inside it evaporates – expanding and pushing the air out of the bottle so that all that is left is nitrogen gas. The bottles are then sealed and the inside oxygen concentration is minimized without the risk of paneling. The result is a bottle that feels firm to the touch. Once you open the bottle, the bottle goes back to its original feel.

An energy drink that bubbles when you add water?

Friday, November 6th, 2009
Have you ever wondered how two tablets of alka seltzer bubbled and frothed? Well, we had a request from one of our customers to produce an energy drink that bubbled when you add water to it. It tastes just like a carbonated beverage when you add plain water. At Eagle Beverage, we thrive on working on these innovative projects. It allows us to be creative, capture a market and provide value added service to our customers.