BeverageDaily.com Personality of the Year 2013, VIRUN CEO Philip Bromley, reveals his lust for life and how soft drinks can combine ‘want with need’ to kick start the category, in the first part of an exclusive interview.
BEN BOUCKLEY: Thanks for joining us Philip, and congratulations again on this accolade! What trends do you think will shape the beverage industry in 2014?
PHILIP BROMLEY: From the applications we are working on and the products we are and have developed, you are going to see beverage and supplement beverages that are so extreme and efficacious that entire new categories are going to emerge.
What is happening on the sidelines is truly remarkable. What we perceive as typical hydration sports drink with electrolytes, for instance, will become obsolete.
What we consider to be healthy mainstream beverages will change and co-packers/manufacturers will be forced to invest in their own processes as consumers and brands are becoming more wise to use of preservatives as a crutch to fulfil regulations, as opposed to implementation of processes and standards to assure safety and cleanliness of finished products.
Using existing ingredients is key
With the new guidelines issued by the FDA regarding supplements and beverages, now more than ever brands are looking for current GRAS ingredients that differentiate from current products on the market. No one wants to create and formulate a beverage or supplement with a new ingredient due to the high cost of filing NDI’s or submitting GRAS letters to the FDA. Using existing ingredients is key.
We have an influx of demand because VIRUN can add ingredients like curcumin, astaxanthin, PQQ or Lutein to beverages that are stable, dissolve clear and can be easily differentiated from other brands on market.
‘Our efforts will be more visible in 2014’
BB: What are VIRUN’s ambitions for 2014 and how is the company growing?
PB: VIRUN is here to support industry and innovation. Everything we have strived for is coming to fruition today; 2014 will be the year where our efforts will become more visible and recognized.
A lot of our efforts are so beyond what has been done or what is conceived that once this becomes more known, the impact will be so huge that industry will be rushing to try and get involved in some shape or form.
The growth expectation has already exceeded our potential, particularly late last year, and 2014 we anticipate our goal to reach beyond triple million digits. We are not interested in selling our business but instead expanding our current facilities, expanding more facilities in the U.S. and globally. We did not invest in worldwide patents for no reason.
Our goal is to continue collaborating with industry leaders, developing finished products that both support acquisition-potential of their brand or company as well as building profit margins for our partners, clients and customers.
Our business success is due to innovation and our partners/customers vision, investment and hard work as well. It is not about us, it is about having a vision, working together to assure the product or project success, joint collaborations/partnerships to accelerate creative thinking and then always exceeding expectations.
Three surfboards…and a supportive wife
BB: Beyond research into non-polar compounds – a passion of yours, I know – how do you like to spend your free time?
PB: I have three surfboards, one for when I want to be reminded of what it was like to surf when I was 18, another for our favorite break at San Elijo, Encinitas and another for tandem surfing with my 5 year-old son, Drake and 8 year-old daughter, Larissa. My kids, very supportive wife, Stephanie and I enjoy camping and appreciate the arts, music and our time together.
My family combined with the great friends and colleagues in my life have really allowed me the creative forum to fuel my research at VIRUN and help build this business, not to mention my investors and partners. I enjoy art a lot and combine this passion with my research at VIRUN.
From my daughter seen painting the VIRUN website home page to inventing new ways for bubbles to release fragrance/aroma in carbonated beverages: this is my life and I am loving it like a Big Mac after a 12 mile hike.
‘Scientists can be great marketers!’
BB: Do you think the US soda category can grow again, or is it just a question of more consumer choice and awareness of healthy options?
PB: It’s tough because even the FDA has defined ‘carbonated beverages’ as snack food in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) even if the carbonated beverage is healthy for you. Carbonated beverages don’t have to be bad for you; however high glycemic sugar is associated with diabetes. Also, preservatives in carbonated beverages do not support natural health and wellness.
Jim Phillips, CEO of Change Cola said it perfectly, If we can combine what it is we want with what we need, then we can re-create this category and begin a revolution. It’s not just carbonated beverages, potato chips can be healthy replacing fats with omega-3 EPA DHA. It can be done!
I plead with all decision-makers at large food and beverage corporations – work with your researchers and let scientists be involved in marketing! Marketing can and should be science-driven and scientists can be great marketers.
Check in tomorrow to read the second part of our interview with Philip Bromley, and click here to read more about his BeverageDaily.com Personality of the Year 2013 award win .