Claire Phoenix, managing editor of 'Beverage Innovation' magazine, provides her 20 beverage trends of the year.
- Coffee has been a big mover over the last year, particularly in the Horeca sector, with caramel and vanilla syrups, nuts and Fairtrade products all adding to consumer loyalty and profit margins. This is likely to transmute further into ready-to-drink products in cans, bottles and cartons – with indulgent, creamy textures running alongside an increase in cappuccino and espresso pods for home use.
- Flavoured beers and ciders have been one of the fastest growing sectors particularly among younger adults aged 18-24. After the traditional apple variants, pear is now a top flavour along with strawberry and raspberry. There is even a restaurant boat in Bristol, UK, called The Apple, which sells only cider.
- Stevia. Responding to consumer demand for lower calorie and natural beverages, the recent acceptance of the plant-based sweetener stevia – Rebaudioside A – in the EU will no doubt lead to a flurry of new launches. You can see some in our innovations section on FoodBev.com and in the January issue of Beverage Innovation magazine, which features a cover story on Liv Natur entitled ‘Success with stevia – fighting obesity with natural energy'.
- In fact, natural energy looks like being a growing trend in 2012. Consumer awareness of ingredients is now at its highest level ever and ‘natural’ is a strong lever when it comes to beverage purchase. There is greater awareness, too, of terms such as ‘antioxidant’ and ‘contains vitamin C’, with consumers looking for dual functionality from their drinks. Added value in terms of being ‘more than just hydration’ is popular when it comes to meal replacement drinks such as smoothies.
- However, water is now the biggest seller on a global basis and industry consultants Zenith International recently released figures at the UK Bottled Water Conference forecasting a continued growth curve over the next few years.
- Carbonated soft drinks have seen a resurgence in popularity over the last year as ‘the affordable treat’ for many families cutting back in difficult economic times. Diet and zero CDSes are now selling on a 50:50 ratio, with full sugar carbonates in developed regions.
- Citrus flavoured juice-enhanced drinks have found a good following during the past year, with some more exotic juice blends finding new favour, such as lemon and acerola cherry, coconut and pineapple and grapefruit and elderflower, to name just a few.
- Clear beverages are increasingly popular, with consumers seeing them as ‘hydrating’ and natural. More sophisticated alternatives for non-drivers and those watching their weight are appearing on the pub and club scene.
- One of the biggest moves over the last year has been into drinks that tie in strongly to particular alcohol brands, and blends are packaged as ready-to-drink treats in slim cans by the till, as a last minute purchase.
- Ginger has been particularly popular in still and sparkling variants. Crabbies has used a retro advertising theme to promote this, with heavyweight beer-style bottles promoting its heritage and provenance.
- Oats are the ingredient of the moment, offering low-Gi, slow-release energy. Sneaky Pete’s Naturally Oatstanding Beverage is just one to illustrate this confidence.
- Ready-to-drink teas are still growing in popularity across the globe, especially in 50cl formats.
- Aseptic packaging, especially for sensitive dairy drinks and juices, is becoming the norm for a preservative-free, natural and premium offering.
- We've seen a number of launches of better quality drinks for children. Half-juice and water drinks are easier to drink and win parental approval.
- Packaging is improving its sustainable credentials in leaps and bounds, with biopolymers such as Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle concept, increasing demand and use of rPET and brown paper cartons, and recyclable labels emphasising end-of-life planet awareness.
- A number of the larger beverage companies are now using hybrid electric/diesel trucks to improve fuel consumption and save energy.
- Water reuse in-plant is becoming more common and is often planned into plant design from the start. A number of plants are also using the heat generated in production for use in-plant. Amounts of water used per litre produced are constantly being calculated and reduced.
- Garage forecourts and service stations are now a substantial outlet for beverage sales, with customers paying less attention to retail pricing.
- Use of smartphones to track beverage ingredients, plus games and coupons/vouchers, has increased exponentially.
- Music festivals are now recognised as an important forum for beverages, not only for sampling, sales and marketing of drinks, but also for education regarding recycling on a grand scale.
Claire Phoenix is managing editor of Beverage Innovation magazine. Subscribe here.
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