Valora is consistently expanding its range of beverages at its retail outlets and continues to surprise its customers with innovative new products. Based on tests and surveys. On cooperation with industrial partners and small regional producers. And on trends such as hard seltzer and functional drinks.
From mineral water and fruit juices to energy drinks to coffee all the way to beers and wines from the region: the range of beverages offered by Valora’s retail formats has grown sharply in recent years and is taking up more space in the sales outlets. In particular with regard to the modernisation of its convenience formats k kiosk and avec, Valora has focused on expanding its range of beverages.
Why is that? Because more and more people are eating on the go. The increased mobility of society has triggered a trend towards snacking, out-of-home consumption and impulse buying. Valora is therefore systematically expanding the share of food and fresh products in its retail sales outlets – with hot and cold drinks playing a key role.
EXPANSION IN HOT AND COLD DRINKS
Valora has been pushing ahead with a coffee expansion for several years now, in which many retail sales outlets have been equipped with professional coffee modules. Around 600 stores in Switzerland alone with modules from its own coffee bar chain Caffè Spettacolo. The modules allow for a wide range of coffee specialities and thus individual coffee enjoyment. Valora also focuses on high-quality roasts and has used only fair-trade beans for its own brand coffee throughout the Group since 2020. Around 2,000 small farmers benefit from the demanding certification, which guarantees a fixed minimum price and ensures humane working conditions.
Around 120 sales outlets – mainly in urban areas of Switzerland – are also equipped with modules from the coffee company Starbucks. Valora is thus responding to the need of many customers to obtain their personal favourites from the Starbucks range quickly and easily from the self-service machines. “Starbucks on the go” is the name of this programme, which is offered exclusively by Valora in travel retail in Switzerland.
“We want to play a pioneering role, anticipate trends and be the first to introduce new products into our coolers”
There is also a lot going on with cold drinks: In recent years, the offering has not only expanded, but is also more diverse – also through the launch of new beverages from Valora’s own brand ok.–. New trends and movements regularly emerge, which are reflected in the coolers of avec, ServiceStore DB, U-Store, k kiosk, Press & Books and cigo. Examples of this include functional drinks, such as protein drinks and vitamin water, which have a positive effect on well-being or performance. The trend towards low-sugar and low-calorie beverages is also linked to the increasing health awareness of the population.
“We want to play a pioneering role, anticipate trends and be the first to introduce new products into our coolers, ” says Helmut Wenzel. He is Category Manager Food & Beverages at Valora and cites hard seltzer beverages as a successful example: Sparkling water enriched with fruit aromas and fermentation alcohol (approximately 5 percent by volume). The trend spilled from the US to Europe – in Switzerland, Valora was the first provider in the convenience market. Another example is “BraTee” by the German rapper Capital Bra which created much excitement on social media in mid-2021 and was available in the Valora stores in Germany and Switzerland shortly after the launch.
FASTER AND MORE FLEXIBLE THAN THE COMPETITION
The key success factors in the dynamic beverage market are the speed and flexibility with which Valora formats can adapt their product range compared to their competitors. “Our industry partners know and appreciate this, which is why they like approaching us with new products,” says Helmut Wenzel. Valora also offers an ideal marketing platform for raising awareness for its products with its small sales outlets in highly frequented locations.
Valora also takes action itself to identify trends at an early stage and assess their acceptance among customers: “Firstly, we test samples sent by producers or presented at trade fairs,” says Wenzel. “Secondly, we carry out surveys and tastings for the beverage range of our own brand ok.–. Customers are thus actively involved in the design of the product range.” In this way, it is possible to decide which seasonal flavours of the ok.– energy drink will be on the shelves.
Another test instrument: the innovation meter. A predefined space in the beverage cooler where new products are prominently displayed for four to eight weeks. If customers are interested, they are then permanently added to the product range.
“Buying beer is an emotional moment in which feelings such as origins and craftsmanship play an important role”
In order to offer the most attractive and varied selection of beverages possible, Valora also seeks cooperation with small regional producers. Examples of this are the Lokales Wasser 37 and the Züri Spritzer, which are sold by avec under the label “Von hier. Regional für dich.” The regional origin is particularly important with beer, as Helmut Wenzel explains: “For many customers, buying beer is an emotional moment in which feelings such as origins and craftsmanship play an important role.”
Particularly in Germany, with its rich beer culture and some 1,500 breweries, the Valora retail formats attach great importance to carrying regional as well as well-known national brands on their shelves. And in Switzerland, which boasts the highest density of breweries in the world, avec has adopted the objective of offering at least one regional beer in the sales outlets wherever possible – from Seebueb in the Zurich region to Öufi Bier in Solothurn and Boxer Bier in Yverdon-les-Bains to Zermatt beer in Zermatt. The range of local wines is also constantly being expanded.
20 TONNES LESS PLASTIC – PER YEAR
As part of its sustainability efforts, Valora is not only focusing on fair-trade coffee, but is also constantly expanding its range of organic drinks – for example, with the launch of the apple spritzer for its ok.– own brand a few months ago in Switzerland. Valora is also making intensive efforts with regard to packaging, which is anchored as one of seven key topics in its sustainability strategy: In line with the “Avoid, reduce, reuse” approach, Valora launched the trendy ok.– stainless-steel drinking bottles in January 2021, which customers can fill with cool tap water or hot tea for on the go.
In addition, the major changeover to ok.– beverage bottles has been taking place since the start of the year. The weight of the bottles is being reduced and the material completely or partially switched from PET to recycled PET. Used bottles are collected, cleaned, melted and processed into new bottles for the production of the so-called rPET. This results in a closed recycling loop (bottle-to-bottle) with major advantages in terms of resource consumption and environmental impact.
Thanks to the lighter bottles and recycled PET, Valora is able to reduce its plastic consumption by around 20 tonnes per year. Carbon emissions are even reduced by more than 200 tonnes, which corresponds to the annual carbon intake of 16,000 adult beech trees.
This article appeared for the first time on 9 November 2021 and was updated on 23 February 2022.
Photos and videos: Noë Flum.
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