TRENDBITE: Six top beverage trends for summer

summer cocktails

From functional hydration to limited edition flavours, the food and beverage ingredients industry is constantly having to innovate to keep up with rapidly-evolving customer demand for new and exciting experiences. Treatt has examined the top trends shaping the beverage industry this summer.

1. Drinks with enhanced hydration properties

There is still a strong emphasis on beverages that offer supercharged hydration, with consumers looking for drinks that do more than just quench thirst. Products like sports drinks and fruit and vegetable-based rehydration drinks are gaining in popularity. These drinks are not only positioned as hydrating, but also as replenishing essential electrolytes and vitamins lost through perspiration, especially in the heat of summer. And with summer temperatures becoming more extreme due to the impact of climate change, there will be more opportunity for mainstream products to offer enhanced hydration features.

Plant-based hydration is on the rise: coconut water has long been a popular natural hydrator, but new options are emerging. In birch water, the sap-derived beverage boasts electrolytes and has a slightly sweet taste, appealing to health-conscious consumers. Water infused with fruits, vegetables or botanicals offer a natural way to add flavour and potentially some extra
nutrients too.

In the UK, we are seeing increased launches of botanical-infused waters, made with real flowers and natural flavours including ingredients like lavender, pear, hibiscus, mint, rose, and honey. In North America, premium waters are being vapour-distilled with electrolytes added claiming to restore the body and mind.

2. Limited-edition flavours

Summer-themed drinks often come in limited editions, catering to outdoor refreshment and entertaining. Limited edition labels create a sense of urgency, making the drinks seem special and exclusive, encouraging consumers to buy them before they're gone. As a result, they are a great test-bed for innovative and potentially more risky flavour pairings.

Often centred around the drinking occasion, launches have been positioned as being 'poolside-perfect' or the ideal 'festival flavour'. Celebrity endorsements are increasingly prevalent in the summer months, especially in the higher margin alcoholic beverage segment. While we expect the prevalence of celebrity-backed brands to grow, society's obsession with stardom is shifting as younger generations are increasingly influenced by social media and gaming stars.

3. Multipack beverages

Summer is a prime time for beverage companies to capitalise on trends, and limited-edition summer flavours will often come in multipacks, enabling suppliers to create a sense of excitement and encourage consumers to stock up on their drinks. With many people still feeling the pinch amidst the cost-of-living crisis, another key trend for 2024 is maximising value for money. Multipacks can be a more economical option, which can encourage consumers to buy more, therefore boosting sales. Multipacks also frequently include a variety of flavours, allowing people to try something new without committing to a whole case of one flavour.

Multipack flavours are often inspired by fruits, such as strawberry melon fizz, orange peach fizz and tropical flavours like coconut and pineapple.

Cold Brew Tea

4. Cold-brew teas and infusions

Cold-brew teas and herbal infusions are ideal for summer refreshment, marketed as alcohol-free alternatives that are refreshing and hydrating. In the United States, cold brew tea is trending as younger consumers, particularly Gen Zs and Millennials, are moving away from traditional hot tea and showing interest in cold-brew tea.

Cold brew tea is also believed to retain many of the health benefits of hot tea, including its antioxidant benefits. The method of producing cold brew tea uses cold or room temperature water for steeping, resulting in a smoother taste with less bitterness compared to hot-brewed tea. The cold brewing process extracts less tannins from the tea leaves, leading to a
naturally sweeter taste without added sugar.

Any type of tea can be cold brewed, from classic black teas to floral green teas and fruity herbal infusions. Some products boast flavours like mojito-style fruit infusion and spearmint rose herbal tea.

The cold brew tea trend is expected to keep growing, especially in the hotter summer months, offering a healthier, refreshing alternative to sugary sodas and juices.

5. Energy drinks with seasonal flavours

Energy drinks are a favourite pre-workout beverage for active lifestyle and sports performance consumers seeking to optimise their workout. Energy drink brands also participate in the summer beverage trend by launching seasonal flavours. Popular flavours include tropical fruits like mango, pineapple, passion fruit and guava, and refreshing and tart flavours like strawberry, raspberry and blueberry.

6. Fruit and tea flavours in alcoholic drinks

There is a growing trend towards incorporating fruit and tea flavours into alcoholic drinks to offer refreshing, interesting and sometimes unexpected flavour combinations. It also includes low-alcohol options, RTDs (Ready-to-Drink) beverages and cocktails that can be made at home, with flavours such as white peach oolong, jasmine green and lemon black tea
emerging in a variety of products.

In 2023, more variety of fruit flavours in cocktails were found in trend-setting bars in the UK. Rhubarb was found in cocktails in 34% of bars, up from 18% in 2022. Figs were highlighted as one of the major trends in cocktails in 2023, now listed in 34% of premium bars. Plum also appears on cocktail lists in 46% of bars, up from 36% last year. While there is more experimentation in flavour from top-end bars, 65% of customers still want to see familiar, fruity flavours on cocktail lists, with strawberry being the most popular flavour.

Where might it go in the future?

AI technology is expected to play a significant role in future product development, especially in the alcoholic beverages industry. It will enable the creation of more unusual, more original and more individual beverages by analysing vast data sets of flavour profiles, consumer preferences and market trends.

Want more?

Contact a member of our Treatt Insights team to find out more, or arrange a tailored demonstration to see our ingredients in action. Click the button on the left and sign up to receive our TrendBites, market intelligence and product updates straight to your inbox, or follow us on LinkedIn to join the conversation.