Business World

Single-Cup Industry Unfolds

The future of single-cup sales is an important issue on everyone’s mind in the industry. Convenience is perhaps the highest goal of consumers. People will pay a premium for pre-packed salads, shredded carrots, cut vegetables (Can you tell I don’t like to cook?), and any product that saves time. They are also more willing to pay for a coffeehouse-type, coffee drink that they can quickly access. The single-cup brewers have found consumers will not wait for the kettle to boil but will wait 30 seconds for a beverage. If a coffee cup-pod-pad system takes 45 seconds, they’re gone. You’ve lost that customer.

At the recent NCA convention, a roundtable that included representatives from some of the major manufacturers of single-cup coffee systems and components, looked at the latest developments in this burgeoning sector (“NCA Converse in Boca Raton,” page 38).

Scott Mazzini for Bunn said, “Cost is not the single biggest issue.” He insisted that consumers are increasingly turning to premium machines and specialty coffees. Bruce Goldsmith, of Baronet Coffee, explained further, stating that the variety of offerings available was one of the key advantages to the system, since it enables -- for example -- triple the volume of dark roast coffee to be consumed in one region’s offices, as compared to those in another area. Single serve, according to David Manly of Keurig, was “not a novelty, but a tsunami,” pointing out that the office coffee sector was essentially flat, with the sole exception of single-serve offerings.

One challenge with pods, Tom Martin of Pod Pack International said, was increasing their sales without cannibalizing the more traditional brew-by-pot business in the office coffee service sector. Standardization in pod sizes and weights was necessary, he added, as was education about the process. “For customers, you have to feed their desires,” he said. “Is their first pod experience a good one? Make sure that it is.”

Marious Olszewski of IMA stated the system brought variety to the market and will influence the way we drink coffee.

While some of the single-cup issues have become at least partially clarified, the questions remain pertinent for those placing assets on the line in pursuit of what is still a very new aspect in the business (Questioning the Pod,” page 18).

Jane McCabe
Editor & Co-Publisher

Tea & Coffee - June/July, 2006

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