Consumers today are demanding more natural ingredients in the hope it will give them greater control over what they are consuming, whilst at the same time allowing them to consume ingredients that bring both functional and nutritional benefits.
Millennials are leading the escape from mass produced, over-processed and over-packaged foods and beverages. They want the preservatives and artificial ingredients ‘out’, and natural, nutrient-dense ingredients ‘in’.
The term ‘Natural’ is open to interpretation, with most countries not having an industry definition the term has widespread use. One study aiming to try and define the term found that there are three key elements that shape consumers understanding of ‘natural’ food. Firstly, an understanding of the origin of raw materials, both how and where they are grown. Secondly, information of the ingredients used, with the clean label movement driving the move away from artificial flavours and colours. Thirdly the level of processing that the ingredients have endured, with consumers understanding that by keeping processing to a minimum it retains the integrity of the raw material. As ever, for consumers there is a battle between convenience and time-saving, and products being unprocessed and natural.
Bevnet reported that the carbonated soft drinks category continues a five-year decline, while natural and organic drinks rise as consumers head to healthier options. Even though 8% of overall beverage sales, natural beverages are driving 40% of dollar growth in the industry.
Natural ingredients convey a compelling message without the need for additional health claims. GlobalData reported that the appetite for natural drinks is strong with 66% buying and 28% interested, but not yet buying in a global consumer survey in 2016.
Brian Reed, principal at IRI stated during a presentation on the ‘State of the Market’ that “some of these categories are actually reaching a point now where natural is the norm, natural is part of the mix, it’s not different, it’s actually part of the entire category."
With everything from nutrient-rich 100% organic vegetable juices with no added sugar to sparkling teas using just brewed tea, natural flavours and cane sugar, the drinks market is erupting with these natural and heavily functional focused beverages.
Water drinks are predicted to continue their steady growth for minimalist consumers looking for simple options for hydration. Brands will also be reformulating products with a ‘back to basics’ approach, as natural ingredients drive innovation.
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