LAS VEGAS — Water. It’s not just for hydration anymore.

Brands exhibiting at the 2018 NACS Show this week in Las Vegas displayed bottled waters infused with collagen, antioxidants, fiber and caffeine. The trend signals a consumer shift from sugary soft drinks to beverages with benefits. Particularly popular were caffeinated waters, which debuted from brands such as Sparkling Ice, Hint and Water Joe.

Also prominent at the convenience and fuel retailing industry trade show were ready-to-drink coffee products featuring extra shots of espresso, launching from brands including High Brew Coffee, Dunkin’ and Starbucks.

Beverage products at NACS

“More and more consumers are seeking a better beverage experience,” said Helen Griffith, vice-president of marketing for S&D Coffee & Tea, a beverage supplier owned by Cott Corp. “They want real, all-natural ingredients delivered in an authentic way. From functional coffees and teas to fresh-pressed juice and gourmet lemonades, beverages are satisfying a greater need for consumers.”

Kombucha, cold-brew coffee and sparkling water with floral flavor notes are set to pop up more in convenience stores, too.

“Cold-brew has been a trend for a couple of years; we don’t think it is going away soon,” Ms. Griffith said. “We are starting to see cold-brewed tea extracts as well. If you have enjoyed nitro-infused cold-brew coffee, you will love nitro-infused cold-brewed tea.”

Texture products at NACS

Texture on top

In coffee and tea, a nitrogen infusion adds a foamy finish, tapping into a consumer desire for unique textures in foods and beverages. Texture-related claims such as chewy, crunchy and crispy were highlighted by a number of exhibitors at the NACS Show, which drew an estimated 24,000 participants to the Las Vegas Convention Center Oct. 7-10.

From Nestle USA, Arlington, Va., new Chameleon Cold-Brew Latte with Organic Frothed Milk and Nescafe Cold Whipped Latte feature front-of-pack instructions to shake the can or bottle for extra froth.

Mars Wrigley Confectionery, a division of Mars, Inc., McLean, Va., is introducing a Creamy Snickers range of milk chocolate bars with a peanut butter, almond butter or maple almond butter filling. The new additions expand the Snickers brand beyond its crunchy and crispy offerings.

“Consumers like different textures in their eats,” Jim Dodge, vice-president of the convenience store channel at Mars Wrigley Confectionery, told Food Business News during an interview at the NACS Show.

Other texture cues spotted at the show include layered, filled, drizzled and popping.

Flavors products at NACS

Sweet, sour and spicy

Trending flavors featured at the NACS Show ranged from peanut butter and jelly to ghost pepper. Product developers are dishing out bold and indulgent offerings to capture the appetites of younger, adventurous consumers.

Hatch chile adds a Southwestern kick to sunflower seeds from Chinook Seedery, Austin, Texas. A new snack pack from Chicago-based Conagra Brands pairs asiago cheese with hatch green chile smoked sausages. Tyson Foods, Inc., Springdale, Ark., has added a new Hillshire Farm roller-grill sausage lineup that includes spicy Cajun jack, Nashville hot chicken and green Hatch chile chicken varieties.

“We’re bringing to the table different ways to do spicy and calling out those distinct peppers like the green hatch chile to give it a point of differentiation and to give it some character,” said Nancy Todys, director of marketing for convenience and vending at Tyson Foods. “These are all on-trend flavors and have hints of smokiness. Some are sweet spicy; some are savory spicy. They’re not just all heat.”

Birthday cake flavor stars in several new products, including protein bars, cookies and snack cakes. A limited-edition Hostess CupCake from Hostess Brands, Inc., Kansas City, combines frosted golden cake with creme filling and colorful sprinkles. Mars Wrigley Confectionery is debuting a birthday cake-inspired 3 Musketeers candy bar with vanilla-flavored nougat, colorful sprinkles and milk chocolate. The product marks the brand’s first new flavor introduction in six years, and sales of products featuring a birthday cake flavor grew more than 29% in 2017, Mr. Dodge said.

Mars also is tripling down on the classic chocolate flavor with a new Twix variety that combines chocolate cookie and chocolate caramel in a milk chocolate coating.

“Twix is the fastest growing legacy brand in convenience this year ... on the heels of the Twix peanut butter relaunch and the Twix white chocolate launch this year,” Mr. Dodge said. “Variants are important. Innovation is critical to the brand and the category.”

Duos products at NACS

There’s something about berry

Fruit flavors are perennially popular, but berry in particular is bursting on the scene.

Keurig Dr Pepper, Plano, Texas, unveiled a limited-edition dark berry Dr Pepper at the NACS Show, and PepsiCo, Inc., Purchase, N.Y., is launching Mtn Dew AMP Game Fuel, an energy drink offering with a berry blast flavor.

The Ferrara Candy Co., a subsidiary of the Ferrero Group, Luxembourg, is introducing SweeTarts Mini Chewy Berries and Cherries candies, featuring raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, dark cherry and mixed berry flavors.

Hybrid treats also are heating up, noted Mr. Dodge, pointing to new Starburst Duos, which combine two flavors in one fruit chew: blue raspberry lemonade and strawberry watermelon. Another two-in-one confection comes from the Hershey Co., Hershey, Pa., which will roll out Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar with Reese’s Pieces.