The beverage category is evolving rapidly thanks to ongoing innovation.
In the new report “U.S. Beverage Market Outlook 2018,” market research firm Packaged Facts provides comprehensive trend analysis of seven leading categories in retail packaged beverages, including Bottled and Enhanced Waters; Carbonated Beverages; Energy & Sports Drinks; Juices; Coffee & Ready-To-Drink Coffee; Tea & Ready-To-Drink Tea; and Dairy Beverages & Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives.
Here are four of the most essential key growth trends for the U.S. beverage market identified by Packaged Facts:
Crossing Categories – The trend toward crossing one beverage category with another is well underway and appears likely to expand. Carbonated juice drinks, plant milk and coffee combinations, dairy-based energy drinks—the mixing has only just begun. One recent combination is a caffeinated bottled water from BiPro USA. Introduced in late 2017, BiPro Orange +Caffeine is part of the company’s protein water line, offering “the nutritional benefits of protein and caffeine while on the move!” The product features 20 grams of protein and 100 milligrams of natural caffeine. Other ingredients include whey protein isolate and natural orange flavor.
Savory Formulations – Savory beverages are among the categories that appear to be on the brink of a major breakthrough. Consumers looking for alternatives to sweet beverages, and ones that offer health benefits as well, as trying drinkable vinegars such as the organic Raw Apple Cider Sipping Vinegars from Vermont Village. Flavors include as Blueberries & Honey, Turmeric & Honey, Cranberries & Honey, and Ginger & Honey. Apple cider vinegar, derived from fermented apple juice, can contain probiotic bacteria that help keep the digestive system healthy. Vermont Village points out that its unpasteurized apple cider vinegar contains the “mother” referring to the cloudy, cobweb-like strands of material that contain the probiotic bacteria as well as healthy enzymes and proteins.
Clean Label – Clean labeling is still in a relatively early stage of development as a critical factor in beverage purchasing decisions. But it is almost certain to accelerate and reach a tipping point in the very near future as an element in marketing and packaging, as well as in the production process itself, that all food manufacturers must address. Consumers, in an environment where trust is hard to come by, want more certainty than ever before that their foods are safe.
Some beverage categories, bottled water and tea, for example, tend to be more prepared to present as clean label that others. But the need to offer a clean label impacts all of the categories and will continue to be a force for change in those that have in the past relied heavily on artificial ingredients.
Environmental Concerns – The transparency that clean labeling represents extends to the methods of production in terms of environmental friendliness and conditions that support animal welfare, factors that are of increasing importance to a growing number of consumers and also likely to reach a tipping point that makes them a must for manufacturers. Note how some plant-based beverage manufacturers, for example, are already using the smallness of their environmental footprint as a competitive factor.
Going forward, expect that regenerative agriculture—the use farming techniques that rebuild and restore soil biodiversity—will become especially important to the beverage industry. Manufacturers will join the movement to use techniques that reduce and possibly reverse damage to soil, water, and even the air. Danone, for example, announced in November 2017, that it was joining forces with the French government’s international initiative on soil health, as part of its drive to support regenerative agriculture.