Drinks trends predictions in US for 2013-2014

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 19th March 2013

US Healthy Beverage Expo, which will run in Las Vegas 7-9 June 2013, is predicting that “functional beverages, better sweeteners, healthy alcohol, drinks for the under-18 set, gastronomically seasoned beverages, better tasting and healthy ready-to-drink coffees, and simple lemonade drinks” are key trends emerging in 2013 and 2014.

The Healthy Beverage Expo is sponsored the Martin Bauer Group, ChromaDex, McLean Design, Stepan Lipid Nutrition, Resource Natural Spring Water, Beverage World and Supermarket Guru.

“While we do not believe soda will be forgotten this year, it is obvious consumers are trending toward healthier beverage options and a plethora of healthy concoctions have hit the shelves,” said organisers of the Expo. Australian Food News reported yesterday that other research by global market research organisation Innova Market Insights also suggests a trend towards ‘healthier’ beverages.

The Baby Boomer generation – which Australian Food News likewise reported last week is the generation of healthiest eaters in Australia – are driving the push in the US towards healthier beverages, said organisers of the Healthy Beverage Expo.

“The fear of their own mortality, and the reality of chronic health issues have pushed this demographic into finding healthy options to sustain themselves,” said Ian McLean, Founder and Creative Director of US-based brand and packaging design company McLean Design.

McLean said that the younger generation also seem to be moving more towards healthier beverages. “The young adults have grown up in a scary, poisonous, deceitful world where no product can be trusted. They can be held partly responsible for the uprising of healthy beverages,” he said.

More Function

According to organisers of the Healthy Beverage Expo, in 2013 and 2014 more drinks will combine ingredients for specific functions to create “two-for-one beverages”.

“We’ll see drinks touting brain health and bone health, as well as ‘healthy’ energy drinks,” said Kim Jage, marketing and sales director for the Healthy Beverage Expo. “We’ll also see drinks that combine coconut and fruit, for example, and we can anticipate more waters with electrolytes but no artificial flavours,” she said.

“Also, watch for healthy ready-to-drink beverages that add essential fatty acids – such as omega 3s,” she added.

Better Beverage Sweeteners

Organisers of the Healthy Beverage Expo also expect to see more natural sweeteners and flavourings, which they say “could dramatically affect the soft drink business”. Australian Food News reported recently that UK research from Mintel and the Leatherhead Food Research group found that there is a global trend towards natural flavours, rather than artificial or synthetic flavours.

“We expect to see new sweeteners that shave off calories and maintain taste,” said Jage. “And we bet that the days of drinking sugary drinks full of high fructose corn syrup are coming to an end. The beginning of the end will be more noticeable in 2013 and 2014,” she said.

Phil Lempert, of Supermarket Guru fame, went as far as predicting that consumers will stop drinking soda.

Healthy Alcohol-based Beverages

Consumers may start to see alcoholic beverages touted as “enhanced and healthy”, according to the Healthy Beverage Expo organisers, as more manufacturers add vitamins and a variety of all-natural ingredients. By way of example, the organisers said that “wine infused with botanicals has been manufactured in China for at least the last century”. Alcoholic drinks infused with items like goji berries and ginseng are believed to have health benefits, said organisers of the event.

“We will see healthier alcohol in all forms with less calories and more organic options, with many announcing their non-GMO [genetically modified organisms] status,” said Jage.

Beverages for Under-18s

The industry will re-evaluate what is being marketed to under-18s, and what choices there are beyond soda, juice and water, according to organisers of the Expo. The organisers predict that more beverages will be manufactured for and marketed towards teens.

“As parents, we’re not offering soda; schools aren’t offering soda; and basic juice and water can be a bore for this group,” said Jage.

“Our kids, like us, sometimes need functional beverages – a wake-me-up in a time starved world, a relaxant for day’s end. Adults have these products at leisure; teens don’t. Also, the products out there that are suitable to teens are not marketed to teens – and the packaging is not teen friendly. That will all start to change in 2013,” said Jage.

Jage said that caffeinated drinks will probably not be marketed to teens, given the recent questions about the safety of high levels of caffeine for children and teens.

Australian Food news recently reported that the European Commission (EC) had asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to investigate the safety of caffeine. In preparing to assess the safety of caffeine, the EFSA found that 12 per cent of teens aged 10 to 18 years were “high chronic” consumers of ‘energy’ drinks, with an average consumption of 7 litres a month, and 12 per cent were “high acute” consumers.

“The industry really needs to deliver healthy beverages that are specifically created for teens. The market is ripe to develop this segment,” said Jage.

‘Gastronomically Seasoned’ Beverages

Seasoning in a cocktail is not new, but seasonings in non-alcoholic beverages are a growing trend for 2013 and 2014, said organisers of the Healthy Beverage Expo. Health-conscious and ‘foodie’ consumers relate to ingredients such as ginger, turmeric and sea salt because they “not only promise flavour but wellness”, according to the Expo’s organisers.

“We’ve certainly seen some culinary seasonings in beverage recipes, and we’ll see more and more of these types of ingredients pronounced in health beverages, the product label and in marketing materials,” said Jage. “Seasonings will also play a more important role in drink recipes as we trend towards bolder flavours,” she said.

“Healthy, Better-Tasting” Ready-to-Drink (RTD) Coffee Beverages

While RTD coffees have been around for some time, more specialty brands are hitting the market as ‘low calorie’, ‘enhanced’ and ‘all-natural’, according to Healthy Beverage Expo. Organisers said the industry’s challenge to keep this trend building is taste.

“Most of the consumer market that buys RTD coffees wants sweet flavor and a full mouthfeel,” said Jage. “Healthy RTDs usually don’t deliver, so manufacturers that focus on true, healthier RTD coffees will emerge victorious and dominate in this space,” she said.

‘Healthy’ and ‘Simple’ Lemonade Beverages

‘Simple’ lemonade drinks will surge in 2013-2014, according to Healthy Beverage Expo experts.

“This year, we will all be reminded of the health benefits of pure lemons – high in antioxidants, aids digestion, rich in dietary fiber,” said Jage. “As our meals in 2013-2014 incorporate richer flavors and spices, lemonade’s sour profile will refresh our palate and, if made with real lemon, detox our body. Watch for more lemonade beverages over the course of the year,” she said.