Just like the food industry is experiencing major development due to technological innovations and people’s changes in taste, so does the market for non-alcoholic beverages. The world is slowly moving towards drinks, soft drinks, and beverages with less or no alcohol. Millennials, in particular, are known to prefer non-alcoholic beverages to alcoholic ones.
These shifts have accelerated the beverage industry’s investment in new, innovative, and healthy non-alcoholic drinks. What developments should we expect in the beverage market in 2020?
New tastes, new experiences
People are increasingly interested in new experiences that will engage their senses.
Due to globalization, people have come to expect new foods, new fruits, and new tastes on a daily basis. Consumers demand new combinations that will intrigue them and amaze them by their clever mix of tastes, textures, aromas, and flavours. People demand more exciting and novel experiences—a shift that also includes drinks.
Nature all the way
In an era where meat is taking a less conspicuous position in people’s food preferences, drinks are following in the same trend. People are asking for plant-based drinks with natural ingredients. They want no artificial colourings or preservatives and only natural, plant-based ones. They prefer their drinks to be natural, without flavor enhancers or colourants.
Ideally, consumers would like plant-based ingredients which, in their minds, reflect the purity and euphoria associated with nature.
Sustainability has become a huge concern for consumers. Naturally (pun intended), this issue couldn’t leave the drink business untouched.
People are troubled about the distance their drink has travelled, where the ingredients were sourced, and whether they were sustainably obtained and—if possible—organic.
Moreover, consumers demand less packaging and especially less plastic.
Plastic water and drink bottles are a problem due to their impact on the environment: they are polluting to produce and to discard. As a result, drinks companies are investing in new, less environmentally-damaging packaging, like aluminium cans and paper boxes.
The irony here is that consumers are increasingly interested in individually-packed drinks which, by nature, have more packaging material. At the same time, they also demand their packaging to be sustainable and recyclable.
Wellness at the forefront
Part of the push towards more natural, plant-based ingredients in drinks is the fact that consumers are increasingly calling for drinks that are actively helping their mental and physical health.
Consumers are asking for sugar-free, GMO-free drinks. They also want any protein in their drinks to be animal-free, as a shift towards a more plant-based diet. Therefore, consumers want fewer harmful ingredients in their drinks.
Health is the new wellness
Many are taking this healthy approach a step further by expecting their drinks to be functional: to actively improve their health. Active nutrition drinks have entered the beverage market with ingredients aimed at specific health purposes.
These medicine drinks want to target specific health requirements: for instance, there are drinks specifically for exercise, sleep or memory, containing natural ingredients like herbs, nuts, or spices.
Extra vegetable proteins from quinoa, nuts, and seeds may be mixed in drinks geared towards exercise. Calming herbs can be added to drinks for better sleep. Ginseng and other supplements may be included in memory-boosting drinks.
And drinks companies and producers are constantly coming up with even more blends: drinks for better digestion with extra fibers or drinks for better skin health with extra collagen.
New spices, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits are joining the list of super-foods such as pomegranates, spinach, and beetroot to create new drinks with remedial aspirations.
All these drinks are aimed at particular health improvements or for better mental well-being.
As people’s income level increases and with the help of a booming world economy, non-alcoholic drinkers are choosing premium and high-quality drinks.
Consumers are aware that the high-quality, well-researched and sustainably-sourced ingredients in their drinks are expensive and they expect to pay more for them.
They are less interested in cheaper or conventional drinks. Instead, they’d rather pay a higher price for drinks that appeal to them, always with an eye on tasty and health-improving ingredients.