Here’s a closer look at the top trends driving beverage innovation in 2021:
Premiumization in alcoholic beverages
More consumers gravitated toward premium alcoholic beverages during the pandemic when bars and restaurants were closed or had limited service. Now, as most people feel comfortable dining out, they are likely going to look for more of an experience from the drinks they purchase at bars and restaurants. In addition to innovating with more premium alcohol varieties, experimenting with new flavors and extravagant garnishes can help bars and restaurants elevate their cocktail menus. Premium single-serve drinks like RTD cocktails, hard kombucha, and hard seltzer are also expected to remain popular post-pandemic.1 Market research firm Mordor Intelligence reports that the Asia-Pacific market is noticing significant growth in market share for premium alcoholic beverages.2
NoLo beverages (no or low alcohol) are taking off around the world, with the market expected to expand by 34% by 2024.3 In the UK, demand for low-calorie beverage options is influencing the growth of NoLo. A third of UK consumers would now consider ordering an alcohol-free drink in bars, pubs or restaurants, and 22% say that lack of availability is the only thing stopping them from choosing alcohol-free beer when out. 4 Non-alcoholic “mocktails” are also attracting consumer interest, with many RTD options entering the marketplace.
The “sober-curious” trend is expected to continue post-pandemic as consumers focus more on their health and wellness. Infusing real fruit flavor is one way that beverage makers are crafting appealing spirits, mocktails and seltzers to meet consumer demand for a premium beverage experience in a low/no alcohol format.
Tailoring to fit
Innovation in the non-alcoholic beverage space is focusing on products designed to match consumers’ personal nutrition needs.5 Companies are creating drinks that are fortified with specific micronutrient makeups to support consumers’ health at different stages of life, such as pregnancy. Not-from-concentrate juices and fermented juices are one emerging area of innovation as beverage makers strive to expand into healthier options.
1 “U.S. Beverage Alcohol: 5 Trends to Watch in 2021,” Beverage Daily. Jan. 12, 2021
2 “Non-Alcoholic Beverage Market – Growth, Trends, Covid-19 Impact, and Forecasts,” Mordor Intelligence. 2021
3 “NOLO drinks market to grow 34% by 2024,” The Drinks Business. Dec. 11, 2020.
4 “Research exposes high demand for draft alcohol-free beer,” Drinks International. May 17, 2021
5 “Trends: The non-alcoholic beverage industry in 2038,” Drinktec Blog. April 9, 2019