Better-for-you beverage trends

by Keith Nunes
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Water and soda
Two major trends in the beverage industry for are the decline in consumption of carbonated soft drinks and the rise of water.

LAS VEGAS — Two trends that have stood out in the beverage industry for the past decade are the decline in consumption of carbonated soft drinks and the rise of water. Both trends have spurred innovation efforts that are becoming readily apparent in the marketplace.

Tom Vierhile, Canadean
Tom Vierhile, innovation insights director for Canadean

“Beverages that have some kind of nutritional hook to them are trending hot spots,” said Tom Vierhile, innovation insights director for the market research firm Canadean, Fairport, N.Y.

In an interview with Food Business News, Mr. Vierhile previewed a presentation he gave Oct. 5 at SupplySide West, which took place Oct. 4-7 in Las Vegas. He said all areas of better-for-you beverages are seeing much faster growth in per capita consumption compared to more traditional categories like cow’s milk, juices and even soy milk, which is facing competition from emerging alternatives. With regard to soy, he said G.M.O.s are an issue and with juice it is many of the products’ sugar content.

“It’s why we see innovation in better-for-you products like water and coffee,” he said.

Beverage trends - cold brew coffee, cold pressed juices, bone broth, probiotics
Key areas of beverage innovation include cold brew coffee, cold pressed juices, bone broth, probiotics and the addition of vegetables to formulations.

Key areas of beverage innovation include cold brew coffee, cold pressed juices, bone broth, probiotics and the addition of vegetables to formulations.

“We are seeing vegetables being added to products beyond juices,” Mr. Vierhile said. “There is tomato water, products featuring cucumber and even a product out of Canada called Veggemo that is a non-dairy milk alternative that is made using pea protein, tapioca and potatoes.”

Manufactured by Global Gardens Group Inc., Richmond, B.C., Veggemo is available in three flavors: original, unsweetened and vanilla. The product is rich in calcium, vitamin D and is an excellent source of B12, according to the company.

Veggemo vegetable drink
 Veggemo is a non-dairy milk alternative made using pea protein, tapioca and potatoes.

“The white milk alternative trend has rippled and we are starting to see vegetable ingredients being used in the category,” he said.

Another trending ingredient is probiotics.

“It’s weird seeing probiotics so hot now, because we’ve been seeing them used for some time, but now we are seeing them in places you would not expect, like soft drinks and juices,” Mr. Vierhile said. “Tropicana is coming out with a juice that may further legitimize the category.”

Branded Tropicana Essentials Probiotics, the new line of juices from PepsiCo, Inc., Purchase, N.Y., will feature live probiotic cultures and be available in three varieties: strawberry banana, pineapple mango and peach passion fruit. The line is scheduled to reach retail shelves early next year.

Tropicana with probiotics, PepsiCo
Tropicana Essentials Probiotics juices will feature live probiotic cultures.

 Two additional trends food and beverage manufacturers may want to pay close attention to is how consumers perceive ingredient content vs. health claims, Mr. Vierhile said.

In 2015, Canadean conducted a survey that included consumers from around the world and asked them to evaluate 100 different ingredients and express whether they had a positive, negative or neutral perception of the ingredients. As part of the survey, the researchers also asked consumers what they paid closer attention to — the ingredients in a product or health claims associated with a product?

“The results showed people paid closer attention to ingredients than health claims, 45% to 37%,” Mr. Vierhile said. “I think the reason is it is harder for marketers to use puffery around ingredients. It is either in the product or not in the product.”

Cold brew coffee
Innovation in the cold brew coffee category has skyrocketed.

Additionally, he noted the consumers who participated in the study said they preferred products naturally high in an ingredient vs. fortified with an ingredient.

“That is making the case for products that are naturally high in nutrients,” he said.

Finally, Mr. Vierhile said the emergence of rare sugars is a trend to watch.

“I think it can be one of the biggest game changers in the past two decades,” he said. “Sugar has evolved into such a negative and rare sugars can offer sweetness without the guilt. I think it’s the kind of development that could be significant.”

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