Top 10: Coca-Cola closes startup incubator, Burt’s Bees' new protein shakes, Starbucks to launch AI barista

New technology, new marketing tactics and new products made this week’s top news, but the most-read news story was the announcement that Coca-Cola’s startup incubator, The Founders program, closed. Coca-Cola said it will continue to support the startups it has already funded but doesn't intend to invest in new ones.

Well-read stories about new products in the retail space included news of Burt's Bees entering the functional food and beverage category with the launch of its three-variety Plant-Based Protein Shakes powder, as well as beer Crowlers, 32-ounce reusable cans, being tested at a Memphis, Tenn., Kroger location.

Starbucks also made this week’s top five with news of its artificial intelligence technology set to launch this year. My Starbucks Barista is a virtual barista that users can speak their orders into to skip the line.

And when it came to consumer trend stories this week, things that CPG brands are experimenting with to boost customer loyalty piqued readers’ interest -- traditional advertising campaigns are having less of an impact on consumers, who increasingly want brands to provide an experience and make a positive impact on their lives, and consumer packaged goods brands are expanding their reach by finding new ways to interact with consumers and elevate the experience they have when buying or using their products.

Check out the rest of the top 10 most-read stories this week in SmartBrief’s food and beverage briefs:

  1. Coca-Cola shuts down startup incubator
  2. Kroger tests refillable beer cans in Tenn.
  3. Burt's Bees enters beverage space with new protein drink
  4. CPG brands experiment with new ways to boost customer loyalty
  5. Starbucks leads on AI with plans for virtual barista
  6. Poke, pizza, organics to lead 2017 food trends
  7. Technomic: Fast-casual, quickserve to drive 2017 sales growth
  8. Prairie Farms Dairy, Swiss Valley Farms to merge
  9. J&J Snack Foods buys dessert manufacturer Hill & Valley
  10. Specialty butchers staging a comeback

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