Global natural colour specialist Oterra has been brightening food and beverages since 1876. The Oterra team share the latest beverage trends.
Consumers want food and drinks that they can trust and feel good about. In particular natural, healthy, recognisable, minimally processed, quality ingredients, simple and sustainable are all noteworthy drivers of choice.
In Australia, we have seen a shift from indulgence towards a healthier more responsible profile. The beverage industry is changing to meet the needs of next-generation consumers in three ways.
Firstly, transparency and heritage have become key, with consumers interested in the back story of the company and how the products are created. This is where we are seeing a lotof start-up companies especially in the non-alcoholic flavoured beverages.
Secondly, we are seeing better-for-you launches across arange of categories, including alcoholic beverages.
It is especially evident in the high growth of fermented and fortified beverages whereby consumers can improve their gut health, reduce their alcohol consumption, and try exotic flavours as part of their daily drink ritual.
The third major change is the rise of clean label, which has evolved into meaningful storytelling through short ingredient lists with real and recognisable ingredients, no additives, and nothing artificial.
This is where plant-powered nutrition and ingredients have a real foothold in traditional categories like dairy beverages.
The taste trends
So, globally what do consumers really want in their beverages?
According to Innova Category Insider Soft Drinks 2021, 21 per cent of consumers want low/no/reduced sugar; 17 per cent want no artificial colours or flavours; 16 per cent want natural and made with real ingredients; and 10 per cent want organic.
Consumers want all of this and more. They do not want to compromise on taste and great flavours with exciting experiences; or great appearance with colour increasing engagement; or the desire to share; and multiple and interesting textures too!
All this has been amplified since Covid with beverages having to be ‘Insta-famous’ at the same time.
Adventurous consumers who like to explore and experiment are moving away from traditionally flavoured beverages like orange and apple and trying more exotic flavours.
This is where we are seeing rainbow drinks, unicorn beverages and strange names and even stranger ingredients.
Limited time offers provide an element of shock or play on consumers FOMO are a great way to appeal to younger consumers.
So, moving closer to home in Australia, what is hot right now?
According to Innova Market Insights Insight Board, in Australia, the fastest growing flavour categories in Soft Drinks (Carbonates & Waters) from 2016-2020 were Mint & Menthol +55 per cent growth; Spices (Ginger & Turmeric) +45 per cent; and flowers (Hibiscus and Elderflower) + 35 per cent.
In the last 12 months, the most NPD launches in Australia for non-alcoholic beverages have been in the carbonates, accounting for 15 per cent, followed by ice tea (including kombucha) at 14 per cent, juices at 12 per cent and dairy alternatives at 9.5 per cent
The most popular flavours launched in key beverage segments over the last 12 months – in carbonates and flavoured waters – were lemon, cola, orange, ginger, passionfruit, and red raspberry. The highest growth flavours were red raspberry at +50 per cent and pineapple at +18 per cent.
For flavoured alcoholic beverages, ciders, and hard seltzers, the most popular new flavour launches were lime, passionfruit, ginger, red raspberry, and mango.
For dairy and dairy alternatives, the most popular flavours launched were still the proven performers – milk chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, and banana – however all of these popular flavours are in decline versus a year ago. The high growth flavours were coffee and cocoa.
This article first appeared in the April 2022 edition of Food & Drink Business.