Image credit: Ted Eytan under creative common license

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Every now and then a big company makes an acquisition that makes you wonder about the possibilities.

Pepsi scooping up SodaStream is one such deal.

The $3.2 billion purchase clocks in at 33 times forward earnings. The rich valuation is justified in part by SodaStream’s strong growth in the sparkling water market, but also because it puts Pepsi into a new category: home beverage creation.

“SodaStream is highly complementary and incremental to our business, adding to our growing water portfolio, while catalyzing our ability to offer personalized in-home beverage solutions around the world,” said Ramon Laguarta, CEO-Elect and President, PepsiCo, in the company’s press release.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Big Drink – including Pepsi – has looked at the in-home beverage market. They launched their Drinkfinity line earlier this year, and competitor Dr. Pepper has most likely at least considered the possibilities of a revamped Keurig Kold post-acquisition.

But at this point, it’s safe to say none of these efforts have been a runaway hit. Will a SodaStream armed with Pepsi’s resources change that? While Chris’s take is that it’s best for Big Drink to stay away from the home beverage machine business, my take it a little more sanguine. I think in-home creation dovetails well with two consumer megatrends that will only pick up more momentum:

-The soda business is shrinking fast, and low-calorie healthy alternatives will likely continue to be the fastest growing category in beverages

-Bottled drinks are bad for the environment, so a growing contingent of consumers will continue to look for more ecofriendly alternatives (like home beverages!).

While a countertop beverage machine may not be for everyone, who’s to say SodaStream couldn’t be built into my refrigerator some day? I just bought a new fridge and, I have to say, I would much rather have a tasty drink spigot on it than a touchscreen (and I’m probably not the only one).

Bottom line, whether built into a fridge or through a small machine on the countertop, I think the stars are lining up for continued growth for the in-home beverage market.

Now if they could make a home Kombucha as easy.

(Ed note: Reader Chris pointed out to me that in 2013 Samsung partnered with SodaStream to add a dispenser to a fridge, but the models have since been discontinued. With sparking water having a moment, I have to wonder if it’s time to revive this idea?)

Speaking of Interesting Drink Trends…

Have you ever had your name printed on a beverage?

We have:

While the idea of images printed on drink foam (whether its coffee, cocktails or beer) may seem like a novelty to some, I would argue drink “printing” could become commonplace in the next few years in restaurants and bars.  My guess is that not only would consumers pay a little extra for a drink printed “selfie”, but brands would jump at the opportunity to get the word out via drink-top messaging. Imagine the value of having your new vodka brand printed on all the drinks served in a bar on a given night.

You can read about the new Ripples cocktail printer announced today (and see a video of The Spoon logo printed on a drink) over at The Spoon.

Delivery Tech Is Hot

Grocery delivery and logistics continue to be one of the hottest spaces in food tech. This week we saw a massive $110 million investment in Boxed (which brings the total invested in the grocery logistics company to $243 million) and news of a successful trial of in-trunk delivery by  As someone who’s skeptical about letting a total stranger into my home, I’m intrigued by the idea of trunk delivery. Amazon apparently feels the same.

If you haven’t caught our the latest episode of The Smart Kitchen Show, I had a great time talking with VineSleuth’s Amy Gross about how AI can help consumers find the perfect wine.  Check it out at The Spoon or subscribe to the show on Apple podcasts.

And if you like my conversation with Amy, she’s just one of many great speakers coming to the Smart Kitchen Summit in just under seven weeks. Make sure to get your tickets today with the discount code NEWSLETTER for 25% off of tickets. 

In the 08/22/2018 edition:

Grocery Logistics is Hot as Boxed Nabs $110 Million Investment from Aeon Group

By Chris Albrecht on Aug 22, 2018 09:16 am
Boxed, an e-commerce company that sells bulk grocery items, yesterday announced a $110 million investment led by Aeon Group, one of the largest retailers in Japan. This minority stake brings the total amount raised by Boxed to $243.6 million and values the company at $600 million.

Ripple PM Prints a Selfie on your Cocktails

By Chris Albrecht on Aug 22, 2018 06:00 am
We are all used to the idea of Instagramming our cocktails, but the new Ripple Maker PM, made by Ripples, lets you place your Instagram-worthy photos directly on the foam of your favorite boozy beverage. To customize a cocktail, users upload selfies, logos, or other images to the WiFi-enabled appliance using a Facebook Messenger app.

Buttermilk Co’s Microwaveable Indian Meals Merge Authenticity and Convenience

By Catherine Lamb on Aug 21, 2018 01:15 pm
Founder Mitra Raman got the idea for Buttermilk Co. because of a craving for rasan: a tomato-y South Indian stew and her favorite food. Raman’s mother gave her the ingredients in a bag — all Raman had to do was add water and boil.

Hitachi to Use AI to Analyze Hospital Food Leftovers and Improve Patient Recovery

By Chris Albrecht on Aug 21, 2018 11:14 am
We often write about artificial intelligence (AI) being used on food before it gets to you: inspecting the supply chain, making sure your burgers are cooked, etc. But a new unit of Japanese company Hitachi is applying AI to food leftover on the plate after people are done with it.

Phrame and Partner for In-Trunk Delivery

By Chris Albrecht on Aug 21, 2018 08:16 am
Is your car trunk the new post office box? It could be if a new service from Phrame and catches on. The two companies announced today the conclusion of a successful pilot that saw deliveries made directly into car trunks in an attempt to provide a new method of convenience for grocery shoppers.

No More Lukewarm Coffee: How Heating Tech will Disrupt the Kitchen

By Catherine Lamb on Aug 20, 2018 02:27 pm
The ability to apply precision heat to food and drinks is a quick-evolving — and pretty darn exciting — area of the digital kitchen innovation. And no one is pushing more boundaries in this space than Clay Alexander. He’s the founder and CEO of Ember, a company which makes smart mugs which can exactly control and […]

Coca-Cola Should Stay Out of the Home Device Business

By Chris Albrecht on Aug 20, 2018 11:51 am
After I wrote up the news this morning about PepsiCo buying SodaStream for a bubbly $3.2 billion, a commenter got me thinking about what rival Coca-Cola’s next steps should be. Spoon reader “James” asked: So now that Pepsi has Sodastream and Dr. Pepper has Keurig, what consumer hardware company is Coke going to buy?

PepsiCo Buys SodaStream for $3.2 Billion

By Chris Albrecht on Aug 20, 2018 08:21 am
PepsiCo said today that it will buy SodaStream, makers of the countertop carbonation system, for $3.2 billion. The move not only pushes the sugary drink giant further into the healthy beverage market, but it also moves the company into more of a hardware space, which opens up new lines of recurring revenue.

Podcast: The AI Powered Sommelier With Amy Gross

By Michael Wolf on Aug 19, 2018 08:07 am
A decade ago, Amy Gross was enjoying a glass of wine with her husband when she noticed how the same wine tasted different to different people. From there she began to think about how technology could be used to make personalized wine recommendations, and it wasn’t long before IBM and others wanted to learn more […]

Food Tech News Roundup: Plant-Based Starbucks, Google’s Wearable Meal Plan, and Grocery Innovation

By Catherine Lamb on Aug 18, 2018 06:00 am
What a week for food tech fundraising! From DoorDash’s $250 million to a hefty raise for cellular aquaculture company BlueNalu to not one, not two, but three fundraising rounds for food waste startups, it’s been a doozy.

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