According to some of the beverage industry’s accepted stories, the margarita was created in 1941, the daiquiri in 1905, the piña colada in 1954 and the cosmopolitan was created in the 1970s. It was in the late 2000s, however, that American Beverage Corp. (ABC) began offering these cocktails in ready-to-drink packages, which more and more consumers value.
ABC was founded in 1960 as Daily Orange Juice Co., an operation that produced and delivered orange juice products door-to-door in the Pittsburgh suburb of Verona, Pa. It may not have kept its original name, but the company remains committed to its founding principles of customer satisfaction, innovation and continuous improvement.
“We have a major internal focus on quality,” President Kevin McGahren-Clemens explains. “We have a saying here that ‘the ultimate customer is the consumer,’ and customer satisfaction is our constant goal.”
ABC still produces a variety of fruit drink products; its most popular product is the Little Hug Fruit Barrels, but it also offers the Big Hug, Big Burst, Guzzler and Big Juicy drinks. Most of ABC’s growth, however, comes from Daily’s Cocktails, its line of ready-to-drink (RTD) and ready-to-mix beverages.
Under the flagship Daily’s brand, ABC created its line of RTD cocktails already containing alcohol in 2006. In early 2009, however, its Amsterdam-based parent, Royal Wessanen, began preparing to divest ABC and significant accounting irregularities were discovered. A new senior team was put in place, and recognizing the potential of the RTD line, the team focused on further market development of the cocktails. In 2011, Daily’s Cocktails became the fastest-growing RTD brand in the United States.
“We started national TV advertising this year, which is going very well,” McGahren-Clemens says. “That was a big step for us, and we’ve had a great response from consumers. These products are right for today because they’re so convenient.”
Daily’s Cocktails include the RTD line of frozen pouches, which are blender-style cocktails in individual servings that are ready straight from the freezer; the single-serve bottles of cocktails; Daily’s Cocktails in a Box, which are blended cocktails in a box with a pour spout; and the pre-mixed cocktails in one-liter bottles.
“I’ve been in the food and beverage industry for more than 20 years, and I’ve learned that no matter how convenient you make a product, people want it more convenient,” McGahren-Clemens says. “But consumers also want variety, so our original frozen pouches come in seven flavors, allowing consumers to mix and match.”
ABC has competitors in the RTD market, but they are all either wine, beer or spirits companies. ABC wants to be known as “the cocktail company” and Daily’s as the cocktail brand. “No one else in the brand manufacturing world is really specializing in the cocktail space,” McGahren-Clemens says. The company plans to achieve this by maintaining a consistently high level of quality in its products.
“We have a lot of quality checks throughout our process,” McGahren-Clemens stresses. “We spend a lot of time testing our product before it goes out the door because quality is so important to us. In addition to our drinks, we also use quality packaging and monitor the integrity of our packaging.”
The ability to maintain this level of quality, he notes, is due to ABC’s dedicated workforce. He says “inclusion, transparency, teamwork and consumer-focus” describes the culture at ABC, and this is the result of ongoing communication.
“Once a month, we have something we call a ‘bagel meeting,’ which is a social and team-building event for everyone in the company, and we also spend about a half-hour sharing information about the business,” he says. “Every quarter, we have a longer ‘pizza meeting.’ We show our employees all of the presentations that we show to our parent company, and share information such as our consumer research and marketing plans. It is informal, but it’s a good way for all of us to get together.”
ABC’s teamwork and consumer focus will continue to be key as it works toward its next set of goals. McGahren-Clemens explains ABC wants to continue to increase consumer awareness of the Daily’s brand, introduce more innovative products, expand Daily’s distribution to the foodservice market and continue its international growth.
“It is amazing how far we’ve come in the last three years,” he says. “The company had to be totally reset, but I’m very proud of our current position. We have a very strong brand that is only getting stronger, and that just shows how much of a team this organization is. Everyone has worked very hard to get where we are now, and we continue to grow.”