The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback aims to score with a better-for-you beverage offering, and canned hard tea brand Loverboy seeks to make a splash with its Walmart launch.

The Weekly Sip: NFL’s Patrick Mahomes enters RTD iced coffee | Diageo steeps itself in Smirnoff tea

Courtesy of Throne Sport Coffee

The Weekly Sip is Food Dive’s column focused on the latest news in the rapidly changing and growing beverage sector. From inaugural product lines to big investments and controversial topics, this column aims to quench the thirst for developments in the category.

Patrick Mahomes bets big on better-for-you RTD coffee

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has achieved astronomical success, with three Super Bowl championships, most recently this year. Now the star athlete is looking to add a new accomplishment to his war chest: helping to launch a popular coffee brand.

Mahomes teamed up with beverage industry veteran Michael Fedele to launch Throne Sport Coffee. The brand is rolling out ready-to-drink iced coffee with “functional ingredients,” including B vitamins and electrolytes. In the press release, Sport Coffee said it aims to appeal to active adults who want a better-for-you caffeine option with lower sugar, compared to RTD coffee drinks with artificial ingredients.

“Having worked in the beverage industry for more than 15 years I have explored a lot of consumer consumption habits and coffee is, and has been for decades, what health-minded active adults and athletes consume for energy,” said Fedele, who previously served in executive marketing roles at BodyArmor. “Yet so many ready-to-drink coffees in the market are high in calories, are loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients, plus provide zero additional function beyond just caffeine.”

Mahomes is the brand’s lead investor and helped develop the beverage. The quarterback is meeting with retailers to market the product, according to the press release.

“We have been working on creating the perfect product for those who are always on-the-go, who are looking for a natural energy source with added benefits and I couldn’t be more excited about being in on the ground floor of building this brand,” Mahomes said.

Throne Sport Coffee is debuting in four flavors: Mocha Java, Salted Caramel, French Vanilla and Black.

The RTD coffee space is dominated by household name brands like Starbucks and Dunkin, along with nationally distributed coffee makers like La Colombe and Blue Bottle. In March, actor Robert Downey Jr.’s brand Happy launched ready-to-drink canned coffee products in four varieties. 

Chris Casey

The Weekly Sip: NFL’s Patrick Mahomes enters RTD iced coffee | Diageo steeps itself in Smirnoff tea

Optional Caption Permission granted by Loverboy  

 

Loverboy scores a heavy pour into Walmart nationwide

Loverboy, the better-for-you premium sparkling hard tea, spritz and canned cocktails brand is flexing its retail muscle. 

The New York-based beverage company is expanding into Walmart nationwide, while also launching an endcap program with its longtime partner Total Wine & More. 

Lovrboy’s retail expansion is being fueled by summer-themed sparkling hard tea variety packs — Cool Classics which include Lemon Iced Tea, Half & Half Tea, Black Cherry Vanilla Tea and Strawberry Lemonade Tea and Vacay Vibes which feature White Tea Peach, Pineapple Hibiscus Tea, Mango Pear Tea and Hibiscus Lime Tea, the company said.

The brand’s new 8-packs will be available alongside its 6-packs in 1,500 Walmart stores nationwide, and consumers can find the end caps under the tagline, “Summer Never Tasted so Good,” showcasing the new 8-pack variety packs alongside the rest of the portfolio, including spritz variety packs and canned cocktails, the company said. 

Loverboy was launched by Kyle Cooke, star of the Bravo reality TV shows Summer House and Winter House in 2018 with his co-star and wife Amanda Batula. The brand was featured in episodes of both shows, and boasts an online fan base of over 1.5 million. 

Though Cooke’s TV personality is not as widely known as some movie stars and Hollywood A-listers, putting faces behind beverages has been a growing trend.

Kendall Jenner, Woody Harrelson, Seth Rogen and Snoop Dogg are some celebrities who have launched beverage brands or collaborative drink products over the past year.

Though data has pointed to an increased amount of Gen Z-ers drinking less, canned cocktails are poised for growth, with trendy beverage options like canned cocktails and hard seltzer having the potential for more expensive offerings.

Elizabeth Flood

The Weekly Sip: NFL’s Patrick Mahomes enters RTD iced coffee | Diageo steeps itself in Smirnoff tea

Optional Caption Courtesy of Diageo  

Diageo slides into summer with Smirnoff tea

With warmer weather arriving in the U.S., Smirnoff is expanding its product portfolio with a ready-to-drink offering in hopes of standing out at parties and poolside events.

Smirnoff Ice Smash Tea is a malt-based beverage with 8% alcohol-by-volume containing brewed tea flavor in two varieties: Peach and Lemon. It is available in stores and online now. The brand launched a campaign with The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kathy Hilton to promote the product, along with an online sweepstakes to win an arcade machine featuring the hard tea product’s design.

While Smirnoff is mostly known for its vodka, the brand’s malt Smirnoff Ice has broadened its reach into the ready-to-drink category since 1999 when it became known as a staple of college parties and drinking games.

The hard tea category is heating up with new entrants in recent years as young consumers look for more variety in their beverages. Coca-Cola teamed up with Molson Coors to launch Peace Hard Tea last year. Earlier this year, Monster Energy extended its push into the alcohol category with its own hard tea drink, Nasty Beast, in collaboration with its distribution partner Canarchy Craft Brewing. Boston Beer has dominated the category for years with its Twisted Tea, which accounted for 91% of hard tea sales as of May 2023, according to Bump Williams Consulting data. AB InBev purchased Hoop Tea, a Maryland-based brand that makes tea-infused seltzers and malt drinks, in 2021.

Chris Casey

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