Hundreds of beverage professionals descended on New York's Conrad Hilton Hotel Tuesday for The Beverage Forum 2014. This year's theme of the conference is Courting the Custom Consumer.
Both threats and opportunities facing the beverage market were featured in the opening day of the two-day event. Among them, the changes being brought to the industry by the Millennial Generation who are seeking more authenticity in the beverages they drink. "We are seeing consumers' growing rejection of big brand culture," Michael Bellas, co-chairman of The Forum told the audience in his opening address. "Our beverage world is figuratively rumbling and changing beneath our feet."
Bellas also touched upon the impact the declining purchasing power of the American middle class is having on the beverage market creating an "hourglass economy" where there are opportunities for beverages at both the high end and the low end of the spectrum.
The first day of the Forum also featured several world-class speakers, including Michael Conway, executive vice president, global channel development, of Starbucks; Jim Koch, Brewer and Founder of The Boston Beer Co.; Tim Brown, Chairman, President and CEO os Nestle Waters North America and Al Carey, CEO, PepsiCo Americas Beverages.
There were also several panels covering the water category, beverage marketing and the popular Wall Street Roundtable.
Awards were also given out, to Starbucks as Large Company of the Year, The Boston beer Co. as Small Co. of the Year and Bill Hackett, president, Crown Imports, who earned the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Look for more coverage of The Beverage Forum 2014 in the July issue of Beverage World magazine and BeverageWorld.com.