Beverage Category: Trends to Watch

Beverage Category: Trends to Watch

February 17, 2021
Shari Steinbach

By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor

The beverage category has seen tremendous growth and change over the past several years and the pandemic has spurred on the development of imaginative new products focused on well-being. As consumers seek products with life-enhancing ingredients and attributes that promote wellness, retail dietitians should be equipped to provide expert advice while aligning appropriate, better-for-you beverage options within promotional programming. Here are some trends to look for:

  • Active nutrition and functionality. There is an increasing number of brands incorporating more vitamins and nutrients into beverages, as well as more specialized ingredients such as adaptogens, CBD and probiotics. A variety of benefits include energizing or relaxing properties, improved digestive health, and stress reducers. Chobani recently entered the functional market with their plant-based probiotic drinks designed to support digestive and immune health, while Los Angeles-based drinks brand, Neuro, has a line of beverages that claim many benefits from more energy to better sleep.
  • Natural quality. Beverages with a short list of natural ingredients will grow in popularity with marketing terms such as fresh, pure and clean. This trend includes the growth of using more natural ingredients such as herbs and plant substances like ginger, turmeric and ashwagandha as natural alternatives to support well-being. 
  • Mindful consumption and sustainability. Heightened consumer interest in sustainability is driving beverage companies to seek more environmentally friendly methods of producing products. In addition, major companies and smaller start-ups are sourcing new packaging designed to minimize impact to the environment with fully recyclable and sustainably sourced materials. Evian, for example launched a fully recyclable bottle with label-free packaging made from 100% recycled plastics. 
  • Lower sugar and lower alcohol. Youth are feeling less pressure to drink and we are seeing a rise in lower calorie, lower alcohol consumption in products such as hard seltzers and lite wines. At the same time, a focus on lower carbohydrate diets has created a demand for lower sugar beverages.
  • Convenience. The RTD market has grown tremendously. We’ve seen wine in cans, ready for immediate consumption, as well as drinks that serve as snacks to help relieve hunger while delivering nutrients and energy. More meal replacement shakes will enter the market with the benefits of not only providing a satisfying meal but also functionality such as gut health support. Along with the increased focus on fitness and health we can also expect to see more cold brew coffee drinks along with cold-pressed juices.