Consumers are increasingly seeking out healthier alternatives to soda and other soft drinks, looking for beverages that offer reduced or no added sugar, functional benefits, and no artificial ingredients. As competition in the refreshment beverage market increases, manufacturers must find ways to differentiate their new offerings.
Kathy De La Bastide, Group R&D Manager at Chaucer Foods, explains how freeze-dried fruit pieces and powders can help beverage manufacturers capitalize on the latest consumer trends.
1. What are the top trends you are seeing in beverages today?
The growing interest in functional beverages is driving innovation in new categories, such as fortified still and sparkling waters, ready-to-drink teas with immunity or mood boosting benefits, and plant-based protein drinks. Consumers are increasingly seeking out beverages that have a positive effect on their bodies, and are striving to eliminate refined sugars and artificial ingredients from their diets. Beverage manufacturers are responding to these trends by diversifying their drink products and innovating with a focus on refreshing, healthier options.
2. What are you seeing in the alcoholic beverage category?
Consumers’ preference for items focused on their health and wellness is also influencing innovation in the alcoholic beverage category. Ready-to-drink craft cocktails are leveraging botanical infusions to create a more premium and natural flavor experience. Low-sugar and low-calorie seltzers have also seen significant growth in the past few years, as consumers seek out healthier alternatives to beer, wine, and sugary cocktails. Seltzers can be colored and flavored with natural fruit powders to align with the trend toward cleaner labels and simple ingredients.
The ‘sober curious’ trend is also leading to new developments in the beverage alcohol industry. Many U.S. adults – millennials especially – are looking to reduce their alcohol consumption and opting for low or no-alcohol alternatives. Mocktails infused with natural fruit flavors can give consumers the opportunity to enjoy a craft beverage experience without compromising their wellness goals.
3. How can freeze-dried ingredients benefit beverage applications?
Available in whole, slices, pieces, or powder, versatile freeze-dried fruit and vegetables can be used in a wide range of sweet and savory beverages. For example, freeze-dried fruits can add value as a premium ingredient and/or surface inclusion for hot and cold drinks. They can also be blended within smoothies or slushies, or infused in teas, cocktails and sparkling waters for authentic color and flavor. Freeze-dried fruit, such as strawberries or dragon fruit, also contains natural fruit sugars, which may help developers to reduce the amount of added sugar when formulating new beverage products.
4. What are some new opportunities for beverages looking ahead to 2021 and beyond?
The market is gravitating toward products that enhance sensorial properties by providing surprising textures, colors and flavors, as well as unique applications. For example, products like the Starbucks Refreshers™ tend to be summery drinks leveraging fruit pieces and pulps for added texture and color. Overall, innovative and youth-oriented products are driving the fastest growth in the market, and these have proven to be easy-to-transfer products across global markets.
Whether you are working on something new or reformulating to meet new trends, our team can work with you to find a solution that adds value. Check out our tips for using freeze-dried ingredients in beverages, or contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.