Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA after PepsiCo released a teaser video and press release announcing the concept, which could be sold in cans or dispensed in bars and restaurants, Euromonitor head of soft drinks Howard Telford said the drink by its nature was designed to be consumed slowly, delivering a more enjoyable experience than drinking regular cola in a bar or restaurant, for example.
Details were still scant, he said, “But I do think we can think of this as part of a broader trend. The thicker, velvety texture of nitrogen drinks has been something we’ve seen applied successfully in the cold brew [coffee] category [click HERE], and last year there were a few examples of nitrogen infused chilled tea products as well.
“We know there is a concerted, industry wide push to build a more ‘adult soft drink’ and this has tended to mean sleeker packaging, ‘craft’ appeal and less sweet, more sophisticated flavor profiles such as Coca-Cola’s Bar None.
More of a social beverage?
He added: “This Pepsi Nitro concept [in signature cola and vanilla flavors] applies another angle – using texture and visual appeal as well. The nitro cold brew products can obviously be canned, but I think they have great appeal on-trade and this is where I see the real opportunity.
“I think the nitro drinks work best on draught in a bar or café where you can use tap handles for presentation and the final product resembles a stout beer in glass wear. This gives you an ‘adult soft drink’ option that is a little more interesting, more premium and consumed a little slower by the consumer. Perhaps more of a ‘social’ beverage?”
‘An entirely reimagined cola experience’
PepsiCo, which posted a 1% rise in US retail sales of carbonated soft drinks in the 12 weeks ended Dec 29, 2018, according to Nielsen data* (Coca-Cola notched up a 4% increase over the same period), noted that nitrogen technology had “transformed the beer and coffee categories in recent years,” and could do the same for cola.
“Now, with ‘Nitro Pepsi,’ the brand has paired nitrogen-infusion with the classic Pepsi-Cola taste to deliver an entirely reimagined cola experience, and potentially create a brand-new beverage category.
Promising “a smooth texture with smaller bubbles,” ‘Nitro Pepsi’ has a “creamy and delicious flavor, paired with a velvety, cascading foam provides a unique texture and elevated experience,” said the firm in a press release.
“With the creation of the world’s first ever nitro-infused cola, we will be able to introduce a creamier, smoother product, reimagining cola in a way that only Pepsi can, to a whole new set of consumers,” said Pepsi’s VP of Marketing, Todd Kaplan, who said PepsiCo would be sampling Nitro at “select venues and cultural events, starting with Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.”
*Nielsen data courtesy of Wells Fargo. US xAOC including convenience channel
Video courtesy of PepsiCo.
'This launch is further proof that nitro is more than a trend'
"RISE Brewing Co. is excited about the recent news from PepsiCo announcing the launch of the first ever nitrogen-infused soda. We've always believed that nitrogen has the ability to transform how beverages are consumed; it's what we were founded on in 2014.
"There are several benefits to infusing nitrogen into beverages: it gives a sweeter and creamier taste with no additional ingredients using only organic nitrogen molecules; nitrogen is one of the world’s greatest natural preservatives. The nitro category, which has seen a spike in popularity in recent years, is often associated with coffee and beer, but this launch is further proof that nitro is more than a trend. It's a category that's here to stay and grow exponentially."
Grant Gyesky, co-founder and CEO, RISE Brewing Co