NILES, ILL. — Beverage nutrition is going back to the basics, according to Imbibe’s newly released 2020 trend predictions. The Chicago-based beverage development company expects more companies will incorporate well known nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, in the year ahead.
“We’ve seen novel ingredients be incorporated into products, but they aren’t necessarily taking off in the mainstream,” said Holly McHugh, marketing associate at Imbibe. “I think familiarity is something brands are going to look for.”
The first R.-T.-D. beverage from Huel, Los Angeles, contains more than 27 familiar vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, copper, phosphorous, and eight different vitamins. The “nutritionally complete” beverages are available in berry, vanilla and chocolate flavors and contain 20 grams of plant-based protein per serving.
Interest in brain-healthy nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids and other fatty acids, also is on the rise.
“We’re starting to see omega-3s being called out, I think because of the focus on cognitive health,” Ms. McHugh said. “They’re also a healthy fat, and there isn’t this war on fat anymore.”
Huel’s R.-T.-D. beverage features omega-3 and omega-6 call outs. It also contains Choline, a neurotransmitter that benefits memory and brain development. Los Angeles-based Califia Farms debuted Ubermilk, an omega-3-enhanced oat milk, in February. Just last month, Horizon Organic, Broomfield, Colo., launched Growing Years, a whole milk beverage formulated to support healthy brain development in children.
Consumers increasingly are seeking out mood-enhancing products that support emotional well-being.
“We’re seeing that consumers really want products to help relieve stress,” Ms. McHugh said. “Consumers, especially millennials and Gen Z, are starting to seek out novel, up-and-coming ingredients like cannabidiol (C.B.D.). You also have more common ingredients, like chamomile and lavender, that are calming and soothing.”
The Chill Group, Los Angeles, makes JustChill, a sparkling beverage containing the same active ingredients found in green tea. Zenify, Chicago, also makes an all-natural relaxation drink containing the same antioxidants found in 25 cups of green tea, but with no caffeine.
S’mores, birthday cake, creamsicle and other nostalgia-inducing flavors will be widely represented in better-for-you beverages across categories next year, Imbibe predicted.
“People want to get those rich, delicious flavors, and they fulfill an emotional need,” Ms. McHugh said. “There’s room, especially with plant-based milk. The medium lends itself to including flavors like that because of adaptogens that need to be masked.”
Growth in plant-based beverages will be dominated by dairy alternatives, Imbibe predicted. Oat milk will continue to be the rising star.
“Oat milk is definitely taking market share from coconut milk and soymilk,” Ms. McHugh said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes some market share away from almond milk. The benefits are that it has a pretty neutral taste, but it can be made into a milkier, creamier flavor.”
Whether it’s an activity tracker or a genetics-based diet plan, consumers have more access to personal information than ever before.
As a result, brands are offering more beverages with new benefits to help consumers meet increasingly individualistic lifestyle goals.
“If you need to focus, there’s a beverage for that,” Ms. McHugh said. “If you need to improve your cardiovascular health, there’s a beverage for that. Consumers want those personalized, ‘I am who I am’ experiences, and we’re starting to see that in food and beverage. Since you can’t do much customization in R.-T.-D.s, brands are taking a personalized approach by having more options for different need spaces.”
Keurig Dr. Pepper, Harrisburg, Pa., is tapping into this demand with its Nuero functional beverages. The brand’s lineup includes beverages formulated for energy, stress reduction, sleep, digestive health, weight loss, immune system support, hydration and more.
Starts-ups and small companies are pushing hyper personalization into new areas. Canadian start-up DoseBiome now offers a tea formulated for oral health. Infuse Your Life Health Products Inc., McClure, Ont., is gearing up for the 2020 launch of Pantheon, a non-alcoholic beer that supports cardiovascular health.
Hybrid functional beverages
Next-generation functional beverages will combine multiple “harmonizing” ingredients to deliver one specific goal or include new ingredients that address multiple needs, Imbibe said.
Monster Beverage Corp., Corona, Calif., fortifies its Reign Totally Body Fuel performance energy drink line with branched chain amino acids (B.C.A.A.s) and coenzyme Q10, which stimulate energy production and muscle function. Quake, a new private label performance line from 7-Eleven, Irving, Texas, also features B.C.A.A.s and coenzyme Q10. Expect to see more brands follow suit, incorporating other popular sports nutrition ingredients like electrolytes and creatine.
R.-T.-D. coffee will increasingly be a channel for delivering multiple functional benefits from new ingredients. Cold Brew Creamy Cappuccino + Protein from High Brew Coffee, Austin, contains 12 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber per 8-oz can. New York-based Good Day makes a cold-brew coffee containing 15 mg of C.B.D. from hemp extract. Seattle-based Bulletproof offers a cold-brew coffee containing medium-chain triglycerides (M.C.T.s), which are known to increase energy, burn fat and improve brain function.
Demand for unique, exotic flavors will continue into the year ahead.
“We’re going to see more guava next year,” Ms. McHugh said. “You usually see it incorporated with a familiar true-to-fruit flavor like strawberry to introduce it to the masses and make it more accessible.”
Interest in Indian flavors like cardamom, chi and marsala will grow, along with Latin American flavors like yuzo, blood orange, chili and cayenne.
Consumers’ sense of adventure extends to new and interesting textures, according to Imbibe. Expect to see more creamy textures from nitrogen-infusions and whipping agents.
“Creamy is definitely in, and it has been for a while,” Ms. McHugh said. “It was in coffee and now it is showing up in new places. I expect to see creamy textures in other categories. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see nitrogen-infused juice down the line.”
Interest in beverages with chewable ingredients also is on the rise
“You see a lot of influence from Asia when it comes to textures,” Ms. McHugh said. “Chewable, poppable textures of boba will increase in popularity. We see other chewable ingredients, like chia seeds and basil seeds, which also offer health benefits. I wouldn’t be surprised if more brands incorporate those because there’s been such a huge focus on sensory experience.”