Chocolate bar based lines are looking good but traditional drinks are flatlining The gap between food drinks and confectionery is getting narrower as leading brands go head to head with a surge of innovation. The overall food beverages market is worth £108.4m and growing at 5.4%, but the £39.6m traditional sector, defined as drinks made by adding milk, is somewhat in the doldrums [Information Resources, 52 w/e March 25 2001]. The rising stars are instant products made with water, now accounting for 63.5% of the market. It's an arena which has learnt a trick or two from the success of confectionery brand extensions in ice cream. Nichols Foods' collaboration with Mars has brought to market Galaxy, Maltesers and Flyte hot chocolate drinks. Galaxy, which Nichols says will soon be worth £3.5m, comes in sachets as well as jars and is mainly targeted as an indulgent, full calorie drink at 28 to 40-year-old women. It has been on shelf since October 2000 and by the end of the year will have extensive multiple listings, according to retail general manager Simon Burrows. The Maltesers drink, new this year, comes in sachets only because of concern over the separation of the powder and the Malteser pellets. Packaging is a key selling point and hasn't been scrimped on, says Burrows: "The products had to be exact copies of the original product. It's the recognition of the original brand that has generated trial." Pricing activity is planned for Galaxy and Maltesers at the end of the year, and this side of Christmas Nichols is also getting together with McVitie's to promote cake bars with Galaxy sachets. Premier International Foods, manufacturer of established brand leader Cadbury's Chocolate Break, says trying to make more people aware of chocolate drinks is the goal. "Penetration is just 30% of households," says marketing director Ivor Harrison. Last year PIF introduced Cadbury's Toppers to bring a fun element into the market for youngsters. This autumn it is launching one drink for kids and three chocolate drinks for grown-ups. "We are imminently launching a luxury chocolate drink under the sub brand, Velvet, made with flakes of Cadbury's chocolate," says Harrison. This will be followed by Cadbury's Orange aimed at families wanting a flavoured chocolate drink, Caffe Latte Highlights for calorie conscious young women, and Cadbury's Finger Dunk'ems consisting of a sachet with chocolate powder on one side and mini Cadbury's biscuits on the other to be dunked in the drink by youngsters. Where this leaves kids' hot chocolate drink Yowie is uncertain. Harrisons admits Yowie hasn't been a great success because the proposition wasn't clear. "We are reassessing it," he says. Traditional food beverages have suffered from lack of innovation and poor merchandising, says Novartis, maker of Ovaltine and Options. Marketing manager Paul Simpson says Ovaltine Light and Options are both in growth thanks to a rejuvenation programme for the brands which has been going on since December. Novartis has cut back on the number of flavours, and introduced new packaging and smaller jars. "We changed the Options packaging because it was too much like Cadbury's. We've used the letter O on the packs to emphasise the brand, and increased the chocolate content," says Simpson. This year there will be poster ads in October and TV ads in January and February. Novartis is also continuing its limited edition programme. Like Ovaltine, Horlicks is a product that is consumed in the evening, and this summer GlaxoSmithKline has been promoting its soporific qualities. Category manager Mark Ferguson says: "We identified the sleep message as being very relevant to today's consumers, so we have driven that through this year with a variety of branded activity." This includes an animal snooze mug on-pack offer, money-off-next-purchase coupons, plus a press and direct marketing campaign. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}