Licensing Takes a Tasty Turn with Licensed Food & Beverage

While apparel and toys seem to get all the attention, we wanted to give a toast to the licensed food and beverage categories. According to the 2019 Annual Global Licensing Industry Survey, retail sales of licensed food and beverage products grew to $16.3 billion worldwide.

The food and beverage sector is responsible for approximately 6 percent of the $292+ billion in global licensed retail sales. Several major food and beverage brands are among License Global’s top global licensors.

Kraft Heinz was featured on the cover as they dove head-first into brand extension licensing in 2021. Seven of the top 75 brand licensors were food and beverage companies including The Hershey Company (#24 bringing in $1.7 billion in retail sales) and Keurig Dr. Pepper (#33 bringing in $750 million in retail sales). Most of the top licensing agents all represent food and beverage brands including IMG Licensing (e.g. Budweiser, Cheetos, Haribo), CAA-CBG Licensing (e.g. Coca-Cola, Red Bull, The Cheesecake Factory), Beanstalk (e.g. Kellogg’s, TGI Fridays, Baileys), and Brandgenuity (e.g. White Castle, Kahlua).

During Licensing Expo 2022, food and beverage brands racked up the awards. Louvre ice cream by Häagen-Dazs won Best Product: Food & Beverage for a Corporate Brand. Harry Potter mooncakes by Awfully Chocolate won Best Product: Food & Beverage for an Entertainment, Coca-Cola, Hi-C & Sprite by The Coca-Cola Company won Best Brand: Food, Beverage, Restaurant, BoxLunch for McDonald’s won the Best Retailer for a Corporate, Lifestyle, Fashion, Sports Initiative.

Major brands announced new food and beverage initiatives around Licensing Expo. Brandgenuity expanded White Castle’s retail food offering to bring Chicken Rings to retail outlets.

Beanstalk Latin America developed a licensing program for Baileys to extend in food and beverage categories across the region. Pringles teamed up with First We Feast’s “Hot Ones” hot wing sauce to bring a limited-edition Pringles Scorchin’ “Hot Ones” lineup.

McCormick partnered with actress/social media influencer Tabitha Brown for Sunshine Seasoning by Tabitha Brown after the original limited-edition all-purpose seasoning sold out in less than 40 minutes in 2021.

For established food brands, licensing extension can help get them in front of unlikely new audiences. For example, in 2020 Hershey, the iconic candy manufacturer, wanted to position itself in the better-for-you space by offering healthier chocolate milk.

a2, a New Zealand-based dairy company, was well known as a better-for-you option in the milk space. While Hershey’s first pitch was met with skepticism, a unique point of difference was soon shown. Armed with data, Hershey showed a2 that the premium milk would fill a consumer need while helping a2 expand their retail exposure. After hammering out the details, the Hershey’s a2 chocolate milk hit shelves in January 2022.

Food and beverage can even be applied to unexpected brands. For example, Infinity Brands launched Frida Kahlo chocolate and biscuits to its food and beverage offerings.

“We have four beautiful biscuit gifts filled with indulgent pure butter biscuits, including Eton Mess and Chocolate & Rose,” says Darren Rickless, managing director, Infinity Brands. “There is good interest from buyers at department stores, garden centers, and gift stores for these lines,” says Maria Strid, owner, of Art Ask Agency.

“Comfort items married with the ‘love yourself’ values of the Frida Kahlo license. A perfect match.” 

Besides the Licensing Expo, there are several trade shows to snack on all the upcoming food and beverage news. The Summer Fancy Food Show, the largest U.S. show devoted exclusively to specialty foods and beverages, will be held June 12-14, 2022 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.

While the Sweets & Snacks Expo, a can’t-miss event for thousands of confectionery retailers, manufacturers, and suppliers, will be held May 22-25, 2023 at McCormick Place in Chicago.

Whether it’s sour, sweet, or savory, fans love finding their favorite food and beverages in new places from new food offerings, new food collaborations, apparel, digital initiatives, and move.

Food and beverage licensing should not be overlooked as it continues to grow and command a bigger place at the licensing table.






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