There couldn’t be a more exciting time in beverages. With new trends emerging every day and a marketplace full of consumers seeking something new, the opportunities are endless. Fresher, better and reduced-calorie beverages are the next growth opportunities for restaurants looking to please savvy customers who demand more in their beverage options.
Food IQ’s Director of Insights & Innovation Mindy Armstrong, along with Senior Vice President of Growth and Innovation Doug Armstrong, presented the latest beverage trends at the Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators Conference (MUFSO) hosted by Nation’s Restaurant News. According to Food IQ, new trends are always developing, but there are four main trends that stand out right now.
1. Bold Beverages
Consumers crave variety, and bold flavors keep their taste buds wanting more. Some of the latest flavor trends include smoked flavor, spicy and sweet, herbs and floral. Although many of these bold flavors are new to consumers, Mintel finds that 41% of them like to try something new and are willing to experiment when dining out, proving that restaurants shouldn’t hold back on their beverage menus and instead should feel confident to branch out.
Seasonal and holiday-themed drinks create a sense of “get it while it’s here” immediacy that appeals to consumers’ sense of flavor adventure. Sourcing local and/or seasonal ingredients can also appeal to consumers’ sense of freshness and seasonality.
2. Give Us Our Coffee
Lattes, cappuccinos and other indulgent coffee drinks that feature dessert flavors is where the coffee market is headed. Layered flavors like gingerbread, peppermint-chocolate and salted caramel are turning into daily treats.
Coffee drinkers are searching for specialized coffee from different roasters that is brewed to perfection. It’s now common for consumers to request specialized coffee from specific locations: Kenya, Ethiopia or Hawaii. It’s important to remember they are also becoming more socially conscious. They often want their beans to benefit social or environmental organizations and they want to feel good about what they are drinking.
3. Tea Is Still a Sweet Business
Freshly brewed, fountain-dispensed and bottled teas are growing, but gaining popularity are tea cocktails, tea and fruit juice blends and ethnic teas such as Matcha, Thai and bubble tea. Many operators are choosing fruit flavors to create a signature tea.
Another tea trend to watch for is frozen teas. Teas are getting the frothy, latte treatment with many touting the health benefits like antioxidant-rich teas.
4. Handcrafted Goes Mainstream
Innovation is exploding throughout the beverage industry. From house-made sodas to functional juices, beverage makers are taking inspiration from the mixology movement and non-alcoholic handcrafted beverages are serious business.
Non-carbonated beverages are highly sought after with artisanal producers popping up across the country. There are waters from artichokes, birch trees and barley on the market – all attempting to rival the success of coconut water.
Smoothies are also here to stay. The fresh, healthy positioning of smoothies makes it one of the top contenders for consumers’ beverage of choice. With ingredients like kale, spinach, mango, pineapple and banana, smoothies meet the demand for healthy beverage consumption.
And don’t forget about juice. Juices and “juicing” have become big business. Marketed with premium, functional terms like cold-pressed and detox, fruit and vegetable juices are demanding a higher price point.
A lesser known beverage, known as Shrubs, is also making their way into the beverage scene. This tangy, vinegar-based beverage is quickly becoming a favorite ingredient of bartenders, and is offered in a range of flavors from floral and tangy to exotic and spicy.
What Does All of This Mean?
With so many different types of beverage trends emerging, operators can choose the trend that’s right for its business without being afraid to take risks and experiment with different ingredients. The best introductions start small, and operators can “plus-up” from their foundational beverages and grow their beverage revenue. For more ideas, visit Beverage Trends on CokeSolutions.