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Research: Winter beverage trends unveiled in Kerry's Art of Taste & Nutrition report

Kerry has released its winter 2023 Art of Taste & Nutrition: Festive Edition research report, providing a comprehensive analysis of 250+ new winter beverage launches across 14 European markets. It explores key trends in seasonal flavours and formats, offering valuable insights for foodservice operators preparing for the 2024 festive season. The report delves into emerging trends and influences, highlighting approaches to reduce sugar content, enhance sustainable nutrition metrics, and innovate cost-effectively. These strategic insights aim to guide product innovators towards a 2024 festive beverage line-up that not only captivates customers but also aligns with evolving public health concerns regarding sugar intake. Amid rising pressure to regulate and reduce sugar content in consumer products, companies are grappling with the challenge of reformulating without compromising the indulgent experiences consumers crave during the festive season. The report emphasises the need for foodservice product developers to address growing public health concerns about sugar intake while meeting the demand for tasty treats. The report sheds light on key trends observed during the 2023 festive season, showcasing how beverage creators are adapting familiar offerings to introduce new, sophisticated flavours. Notably, the addition of warming winter spices, including cardamom and gingerbread, has gained prominence. Seasonal indulgences, such as flavoured hot chocolates, mochas and frappés, continue to feature prominently on menus.

Surprisingly, despite the traditional preference for winter-warming beverages, there has been a 7% year-over-year increase in the launch of iced beverages, constituting 23% of all festive season new-product launches. The Benelux and German markets lead in iced beverage launches, accounting for 50% and 45%, respectively. This trend signals a shift towards the incorporation of cold beverages as a year-round menu item. Daniel Sjogren, VP of Food Service for Kerry Europe, said: “Our research shows that the shift toward simultaneously enhancing both indulgence and nutrition has influenced menus across Europe this festive season, and in fact far more noticeably than ever before. With many foodservice operators still searching for ways to translate these trending recipe advances into their menus, for the time being this trend is being driven predominantly by leading innovators.” He continued: “The big challenge for foodservice beverage product developers going forward is maintaining appealing, indulgent beverage flavours while also reducing sugar and calorie content. These sugar-reduction efforts will pay off decisively by also improving sustainability credentials and success in this area. This is particularly helpful in reaching the mainly younger consumers who prioritize sustainability as a key purchase driver."

Kerry's top three trends In Winter 2023, a discernible trend in the beverage landscape centres around seasonal products, strategically designed to offer consumers a nuanced experience while simultaneously driving foot traffic to foodservice establishments. Flavour evolutions: Consumers express a preference for novel and adventurous flavours, yet remain cautious about financial investments in untested options. Avoiding overtly unconventional choices, they gravitate toward familiar tastes presented with a refined twist. To address this, the report states that "brands are using well-established tastes but getting creative with naming to convey a more exotic and seasonal offering. For instance, instead of simply calling a flavour “orange” the flavour profile has evolved to “mandarin” or “clementine”. This has the bonus effect of making the product seem more premium." Warming seasonal flavours: As temperatures decline, the demand for warm beverages intensifies. Foodservice operators respond by introducing warming winter spices and rich, indulgent brown tones. Traditional festive spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and gingerbread take centre stage, complemented by opulent notes of caramel, chocolate and toffee. Delightful indulgence: Recognising the stress associated with the holiday season, brands are strategically positioning themselves to provide a serene, "feel-good" respite for customers. This is reflected in the increasing popularity of flavoured hot chocolates, mochas, and frappes—an invitation for consumers to indulge in a moment of self-care. Accompanying these offerings are elevated toppings, featuring flavoured creams, delectable sauces, and tasteful biscuit and chocolate inclusions, lending an air of sophistication and festive charm.

Top five festive flavours

1. Chocolate 2. Gingerbread 3. Caramel 4. Toffee 5. Cinnamon

Festive flavours by region North America: Iced winter indulgence Jocelyn Carter, activation marketing director, Kerry Taste and Nutrition, North America: “This year we are seeing a dramatic increase in the use of indulgent brown flavours such as chocolate and caramel. It is also not just about taste this year with the visualisation of festive beverages becoming just as important. Chains are using their ingredients to make their drinks stand out visually and appear even more festive to add to the experience such as the use of white chocolate to match snow and peppermint sprinkles to imitate candy canes.” Mexico: Dessert-inspired classics Natalia Carmona, marketing analyst, Kerry Taste and Nutrition, LATAM: “This year, festive drinks themed around regional desserts, chocolates and nuts are everywhere, with flavours like red velvet, chestnut praline, caramel or nutty chocolate appearing in many menus. In terms of formats, lattes and frappes continue to be the most popular this year with a balanced mix between hot and iced winter drinks.” Middle East: Decadent desserts Taku Chibwe, development beverage specialist, Kerry Taste and Nutrition, MISA: “Foodservice brands offer indulgent and delightful dessert inspired and spice decorated combinations. Flavours like chocolate, orange, cinnamon, maple nut, pumpkin spice and toffee nut are used to marry consumers’ love of the new with their nostalgia for traditional flavours. However, as playful as the flavours may be, coffee remains the main medium they are paired with.” For more information about trends by country/region, read Kerry's full report. Kerry's predictions for 2024 Better for you indulgence: Today's consumers prioritise excellent taste without compromising their health or environmental values. To capture the loyalty of these discerning individuals, it is imperative to substantiate ongoing efforts to enhance products through gradual reductions in sugar and calories and an overarching commitment to sustainability. By consistently demonstrating these improvements, brands can foster loyalty, ensuring continued patronage from conscientious consumers in the future. Nostalgic treats that surprise and delight: In an environment fraught with increasing pressures, consumers seek solace, delight and moments of joy from the brands they choose. To meet this demand, brands can instil delight through a blend of nostalgic and innovative flavour combinations, thoughtful additions, and strategic marketing incentives. Leveraging a mix of nostalgic elements and novel twists, coupled with added extras, creates a unique and uplifting experience. Incorporating value-driven strategies, such as early access launches, discounts and engaging competitions, further enriches the consumer journey. Efficient creativity: Elevate your menu for the upcoming year by infusing creativity. Utilise your core products year-round, with strategic seasonal additions, creating exciting and cost-effective limited-time offerings.


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