While water, dairy milk and carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) are still the most commonly consumed drinks in the United States, according to Mintel’s latest “Functional Ingredients in Food and Drink” report, consumers who describe themselves as enjoying new and trendy foods or following a specialty diet are looking for something quite different: health-focused beverages with functional benefits.
Mintel reports certain categories soar in popularity with these better-for-you and trend-watching consumers, notably sparkling water, smoothies, ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee and tea, energy drinks and nondairy milk. Plus, these consumers are also more likely than adults overall to like trying food and ingredients from other countries, opening the market even further to include unique flavor and finished product options.
Food & Beverage Insider spoke to representatives from three brands – KÖE Organic Kombucha, Planet Oat and Waterloo Sparkling Water – about better-for-you beverage trends, current challenges and what lies ahead. Here’s what they had to say.
Food & Beverage Insider: What are some of the top ingredient trends in the better-for-you beverage space, and what is driving those trends?
Jason Shiver, CEO, Waterloo Sparkling Water: Consumers, now more than ever, are looking to choose healthier food and beverage options, whether they are participating in a specific diet or simply swapping traditional sugary drinks with a fresh new product. Low-calorie and low-carb continue to be influential factors that consumers look at when purchasing a new beverage. Still, overall, there's a shift in consumption habits that have made way for the rise of health-conscious options that still offer a delightful drinking experience, like sparkling water. Waterloo prides itself on having on-trend attributes serving consumers’ needs with zero calories and zero sugar while being non-GMO.
Louisa Lawless, chief strategy officer, KÖE Organic Kombucha: Another ubiquitous trend is the limitation of sugar and calories. We're proud to offer an enjoyable, fruit-forward drinking experience, with just 8 g of sugar per 12-ounce can. And while things like CBD, botanicals and adaptogens are all trending additions in beverage, mainstream consumers seek more familiar functional ingredients like probiotics.
New shelf-stable functional options that fit better-for-you needs are also driving trends, and consumers and retailers alike are looking for clean beverages that don’t necessarily require refrigeration. There are very few shelf-stable, functional, USDA Organic drinks on the market today, but KÖE Organic Kombucha hits all those marks and also has a one-year shelf life.
To read more check out the Drink up: Winning strategies for healthy beverages – digital magazine.
Melissa Kvidahl Reilly is a freelance writer and editor with 10 years of experience covering news and trends in the natural, organic and supplement markets. She lives and works in New Jersey.