This year’s most popular holiday drinks in the United States will come as no surprise: hot chocolate, peppermint mochas, and eggnog, in that order.
As we celebrate a holiday season that is likely to see a return to most, if not all, pre-COVID traditions, we still love our drinks of comfort. But a new one’s making the list of holiday favorites, too: healthy beverages. More specifically, fresh juices, functional beverages, and flavored beverages.
While consumers focus on strengthening their immune system, fresh juices, naturally rich in vitamins and other nutrients, have grown in popularity throughout the pandemic.
During the holidays, fresh juices offer an opportunity for enthusiasts to balance their indulgence and binge on less healthy options, while still maintaining a healthy routine.
Fresh juices refer to freshly squeezed drinks obtained directly from natural fruits. Therefore, they don’t have preservatives or artificial sugars. In addition, they have natural antioxidants and are packed with soluble fibers, with numerous health benefits. For instance, antioxidants help block or prevent oxidative damage to cells, proteins, and DNAs that subsequently results in tissue damage.
As consumers increasingly prefer freshly squeezed juices to juices that are products of fruit concentrates and manufacturing processes, such as deaeration and pasteurization, intended to extend their shelf life, many companies whose products fall into the latter category are exiting the space. Some have sold their juice subsidiaries, while others have passed on previously announced decisions to purchase juice brands.
Although these businesses claim the decision to exit stems from the emerging need to concentrate on healthier, zero-calorie beverages to cater to changing consumer preferences, the real reason is falling demand.
Consumers are more knowledgeable about what to look out for as well as how to read nutritional panels. And as it turns out, small businesses might be better suited to provide healthier fresh drinks, as it’s difficult for large beverage producers to match large-scale production with nutrient-dense ingredients.
A functional drink is any beverage that offers additional health benefits beyond its indicated nutritional value, for example, reducing the risk of disease. Drinks contain unconventional ingredients such as amino acids, probiotics, dietary fibers, minerals, antioxidants, added raw fruits, and more.
There are several types of functional drinks, including sports drinks, caffeinated beverages, fruit beverages (not to be confused with juices), probiotic drinks, vegetable drinks, meal replacers, and dairy-based beverages.
Functional drinks are rising in popularity for the same reasons as fresh juices. According to a recent Mintel report, consumers don’t mind paying extra for extra health benefits. As the report hinted, manufacturers who expand to offer even more benefits will appeal to a bevy of more buyers.
Some functional beverage categories stand out from the rest. For instance, drinks that promote gut health, e.g., those with probiotic and probiotic properties, are linked to brain health, a strong immune system, healthy sleep, better digestion, and improved mood. As a result, consumer interest in such products has ballooned by 77% between 2019 and 2021, and is expected to continue growing.
Consumers’ preferences in healthy beverage choices have also influenced the beverage flavor space. As a result, multiple plant-based flavors have emerged as brands attempt to demonstrate that their products use natural sweeteners or are low on sugar. Keep an eye on flavors such as turmeric, ginger, hibiscus, yuzu, key lime, and more citrus options in beverages, that communicate a beverage is more natural or healthier even if the flavor is not related to the actual product. This trend is likely to continue.
Ready To Market Your Own Healthy Beverages?
The pandemic has generated a greater interest in people’s individual health. As a result, consumers have embraced lifestyle choices that enhance overall wellbeing. Some of the beverage trends we expect to continue as a reflection of such choices are fresh juices and functional beverages. In addition, some brands may flavor their beverage products to give their consumers the impression that what they are drinking is healthy. In sum, healthy beverages are here to stay.
Want to capitalize on these consumer trends? WiseBev can help you achieve your healthy beverage goals. Contact us.