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Stumping for Shelf Space
the soft-drink giants Coke and Pepsi, with a few other brands scrambling for the leftovers. But the industry has radically changed in the last decade, as consumers have turned away from soft drinks amid concerns about their impact on health. Since 1998, Americans have been drinking about 33 fewer cans of soda per person per year, according to Beverage Digest, a trade magazine.

An enormous variety of drinks, a hundred or more even in small delis, have picked up the slack. Bottled water and Gatorade are big sellers, but there’s also a rainbow of teas, flavored waters, sparkling waters, carbonated juices and yogurt smoothies. And energy drinks, where Guru believes it has found an opening offering products with all natural and organic ingredients.

The explosion of new beverages has been marked by stories of regular folks who started small and made it big with a new drink that they hustled to local stores. Three New York friends created Snapple, which was sold to Quaker Oats Company in 1994 for $1.7 billion.

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