Beverage Makers Unveil Summer Lineup of Drinks

Think of the upcoming weeks as the upfront season for beverage makers. Each spring, industry giants like National Beverage (FIZZ), Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) and Starbucks (SBUX) announce their new slate of summer flavors to distributors, retailers and consumers in an effort to generate plenty of buzz well before you hit the beach.

In terms of beverage consumption levels, summer months have historically ranked about 30% higher than the earlier part of the year, says John Sicher, editor and publisher of trade journal Beverage Digest. Even more dramatic spikes occur around the summer holidays of Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. And beverage makers are desperate to tap into that opportunity. Last year, sales of carbonated soft drinks declined 2.1%, marking the fifth consecutive year of declines, according to Beverage Digest.

"Picnics, Weddings, Summertime Parties..."

Among some of this summer's anticipated thirst quenchers are plenty of caffeinated drinks, including a fizzy citrus drink with a kick, a Southern-style sweet tea and customizable frappuccinos. "Summer is an exciting time, and there's a lot going on. There's picnics, weddings, summertime parties, and it's a big, big time for sporting events," says Grace Keene, a National Beverage spokeswoman.

National Beverage, which owns such brands as Shasta and Faygo, plans to introduce a new carbonated soda called Mountain Rush, which is a blend of a citrus flavors and caffeine. The company's Ohana brand will debut new flavors that include Sweet Tea, Green Tea, banana, strawberry and melon.

McDonald's (MCD) is testing a slate of new drinks including frozen lemonade and fancier shakes, according to The Wall Street Journal. And to make the traditional beverages even more enticing, McDonald's is hoping to convince its franchisees to go along with a plan to offer $1 soft drinks no matter what the size (a large currently sells for about $1.39) over the course of the summer.

To counter increased competition from all of these beverage makers and fast-food chains getting into the caffeine game, Starbucks is going to start offering customizable frappuccinos, according to the Journal. With its "however-you-want-it frappuccino," customers will have the option of going decaf or full java jolt or low-calorie. Hold the whipped cream, and give me non-fat frap with light syrup, thanks.

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