Top 5 Beverage Trends for 2018

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As we start 2018 we’re looking at the trends we think you’ll need to be paying attention to for the year ahead and beyond.

Choices for body and soul

Consumers are increasingly mindful of how products are packaged and processed. They are seeking beverages that offer peace of mind with regards to how products impact both the environment and themselves, preferring products that offer a sense of responsibility.

Wariness from consumers regarding what’s in products has increased as scandals and suspicion over claims made by various brands has raised awareness. This is driving the demand for transparency in production processes, supply chains and the clear labelling of ingredients. Mintel reported that ethical and environmental claims, such as environmentally friendly packaging as well as animal and human welfare claims rose by 22% in global food and drink introductions between September 2016- August 2017, from just 1% in the same period a decade earlier.

The need for ‘better for you’ products will continue to grow, heightened by increasing awareness of ingredients detrimental to health. Consumers will instead turn to products using natural ingredients they can trust. Mintel reported a 17% increase in natural product claims in new food and drink launches between September 2016 and August 2017 compared to the same period the decade prior.

Self-care for all

Manufacturers and retailers across the industry are improving transparency across more products so accessibility of clear labelling reaches all consumers regardless of household income.

Consumers are taking matters into their own hands as they define their own take on what shapes a realistic balanced diet, creating their own programs for health that fit in with their increasingly busy lifestyles. The raised awareness of high levels of salt, sugar and fats adds to the stresses of making the right choices, the more accessible these alternatives become the easier it is for consumers.

The lighter and smaller things in life

Across the beverage industry reduced sugar will continue to drive both re-formulation and new product development. Using terms such as to slightly sweet, to airy and lightly sparkling in those categories with traditionally still offerings.

For the alcohol sector, we’ll see an increase in low alcohol claims and alcohol-free products stretching this market to new places, with offerings being lighter in overall calories as well as ABV levels.

From power-houses such as nutrient-rich vegetable juice shots to 20cl bottles from non-alcoholic spirit equivalents through to mini ice-creams and numerous snack size portions, we’ll see a continuing trend to go-mini across the food and drink market. Offering consumers options that support their personal programs for health.

Plants dominate

The importance of formulating beverages with natural and nutritional ingredients such as fruit, vegetables, botanicals, seeds and spices are set to continue, supporting the overarching drive for health. Further evidence comes from a dramatic rise in the number of vegans, in the UK we’ve seen a 350% increase in the 10 years to 2016.

We’ve seen a dramatic rise in the plant waters category, with Zenith Global reporting the market is set to double to $5.4 billion by 2020, as consumers continue to seek healthy hydration. They forecast that the global market volume for alternative waters will approach 1,900 million liters by 2020, benefiting from increasing sales in both the mainstream and premium markets. We’ve seen everything from birch to cactus water so far, but the raw materials out there are far reaching. The main opportunities for brands in the alternative waters market are identified as providing premium, craft, organic and not-from-concentrate plant waters.

In other categories, plant-protein based drinks and nut milks will continue to grow as dairy alternatives. We’ll potentially see pea protein become the macronutrient of the moment.

Processing gets positive

We’re going to be seeing an increase in products with ‘raw’ and ‘old fashioned’ processes hitting the shelves according to Innova. The cold brew form of premiumisation, popularised by the coffee category has seen an expanding interest into tea, with a noticeable increase in new cold tea RTD products hitting the shelves that is set to continue. Many cold-pressed brands have their roots in juice cleanse or detox programs, and have thus helped some consumers reconsider juice as a tool for weight management rather than something to be avoided.

With processing such as fermentation offering other health benefits such as digestive health as well as reverting to trusted traditional methods, the rise of Kombucha and other fermented beverages is set to continue.

See how we can support your formulation development with ingredients to compliment these trends in 2018 and beyond, right here.