|Headquarters||Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, USA|
Number of employees
|Parent||The Coca-Cola Company|
Fuze Beverage (// fyooz), commercially referred to as simply Fuze (marketed in Turkey and Switzerland as Fuse), is a manufacturer of teas and non-carbonated fruit drinks enriched with vitamins. Currently the brand consists of five vitamin-infused lines: Slenderize, Refresh, Tea, Defensify, Magdalotopuss, and Vitalize. The use of vitamins, amino acids, and herbs, and alternative sweeteners such as crystalline fructose places Fuze products in what is known in the industry as the "new age" beverage category.
Fuze Beverage was founded by Lance Collins and creative director Paula Grant in the basement of Collins' Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey home in 2000. Bruce Lewin put the "fuel in the rocket" (obtained funding for the fledgling company) in 2001. He subsequently joined Fuze's board and became a major shareholder. Joe Rosamilia was also one of the founding investor/directors.
The brand was launched, first in the Northern California market in 2001 with three flavors packaged in fruit-themed bottles: mixed berry, banana colada and cranberry raspberry. In 2002 the brand launched two additional flavors, peach mango and tropical punch; the same year, the company grew to 30 employees and moved out of Collins' basement.
The company continued to expand rapidly, launching new flavors throughout 2004 and 2005. Since 2005, Fuze products may be found in most major retailers, with sales exceeding 11 million cases by 2006.
The company's growth attracted the attention of The Coca-Cola Company, which purchased Fuze Beverage in February 2007 for an estimated $250 million. Coke also gained the rights to NOS Energy Drinks and WaterPlus as part of the purchase. It was one of Coke's largest acquisitions since it bought Odwalla Inc. for $186 million in 2001. The move was seen as a strategic effort to expand the company's portfolio of non-carbonated beverages, and specifically to compete with PepsiCo's SoBe line of fruit juice blends and enhanced waters. It also confirmed a strategy shift from Coke's long-time practice of developing new products in house in favor of buying innovative beverage companies. Fuze launched over 40 new products and line extensions since its inception. Coke named Carl Sweat, previously senior vice president of sales and marketing of its retail division, as president and general manager to lead Fuze as a separate entity. Company founder Lance Collins was named head of innovation and strategy.
Leveraging Coke's distribution system and relationships, sales more than doubled from 2007 to 2008. In 2009, Fuze entered into an agreement to sell its products fountain-style in over 22,000 Subway sandwich shops. Sweat departed the company in 2009 for a post in the global beverage unit at Starbucks.
Fuze beverages are marketed as natural health products and are fortified with a variety of vitamins, antioxidants and electrolytes, which are usually considered to be a factor in the maintenance of good health. Fuze beverages are labelled as Enhanced Real Fruit Beverage(s) and contain a mix of concentrated fruit juices and fruit purees in addition to other ingredients. However, the exact amount of fruit juices per 547 ml bottle is unclear due to the product label, which presents medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients in separate lists; this information is also absent from the Fuze product website. It has been estimated that Fuze beverages contain between 1.0% and 5.0% actual fruit content.
Fuze's Slenderize line of products has the widest selection of flavors, and it is implied that these products will assist in weight loss either by satisfying a dieter's cravings for sweets or by incorporating the drink into a more filling smoothie mix using fresh fruit and yogurt. However, to date there is no scientific evidence to support these claims or other previous assertions that Fuze products may help consumers avoid cancer, heart disease, colds, flu, and infections of the lungs and kidneys.
Some consumers may choose Fuze products over other drinks because they wish to avoid high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which has been tentatively linked to obesity and diabetes; the alternative sweetener used in Fuze is crystalline fructose, which is chemically distinct from HFCS, although it is produced by allowing the fructose to crystallize "from a fructose-enriched corn syrup". Since crystalline fructose is about 5.0% sweeter than high-fructose corn syrup, it adds fewer calories to a sweetened food or drink compared with table sugar or HFCS, resulting in Fuze products' lower calorie content than other bottled drinks.
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