Insights For The 2018 Beverage Industry

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Ieva Jureviciene, NPD Manager at MyDrink Beverages, shares her insights on the trends to look out for in the 2018 beverage industry.

For the past few years, beverage trends have not changed dramatically but have been slowly evolving instead. Natural ingredients are still one of the top requirements for a newly launched successful product.

Requirements for natural flavours, colorants and even acidifiers have been eventually supplemented with a request for ‘as natural as possible’ processing in order to match homemade-tasting products. This has led to one of the trends for the upcoming year—naturally brewed beverages.

Naturally Brewed


Tea or coffee extracts are now being additionally processed so the flavour of the final product might differ from what people are used to drinking at home. With naturally cold or hot brewing techniques available, the consumer gets a picture of a handmade product which tastes familiar, but is also presented as a premium product.

These processes require more time, patience and additional equipment in the factory, so there are still a limited number of naturally brewed products on the market today; this exclusivity makes these drinks seem even more ‘premium’.

Naturally cold brewed coffee is slightly less popular due to its bitter and strong taste profiles, but naturally brewed tea is gaining increasing popularity all over the world. Asian countries do have strong tea drinking traditions, which can now be transferred to a fast-moving consumer goods category.

To the rest of the world, the demand for naturally brewed teas would bring new types of ice teas in the market. Brewed teas vary not only with the type of tea, but can also get more unique by varying brewing time, mixing in various herbs and herbal plants, and adding some fruit juice or flavours.

Smart Drinks


Another interesting trend for the year 2018 is the wider expansion of liquid meals or “smart drinks”. These drinks are getting more popular due to the high speed of human life, increasing health consciousness of consumers, and the growing focus on a fully fledged diet.

Usually, meal replacements or liquid snacks are fortified with a great number of necessary nutrients that are sometimes hard to get daily even when consuming freshly made food. These nutrients include not only minerals and vitamins, but also protein, carbohydrates, fibres and even fat.

A main focus of the industry lately is on the protein source. It is observed that the lactose-intolerant population is growing over the years; some researchers estimate as high as 75 percent of the whole global population has this problem.

Due to this, we are seeing a huge interest with non-dairy protein sources, such as soy protein, various nut proteins, pea protein or even hemp protein. These proteins are not digested as fast as whey protein; for athletes, whey protein might still be the number one choice. However, some of the whey protein producers today are also offering lactose-free whey protein isolate solutions.

Catering To Improving Health


Finally, yet still very important, is the worldwide concern regarding obesity and diabetes that has challenged the whole beverage industry to make major adjustments.

Many beverage categories have been overloaded with sugar for years. Consumers have gotten used to a certain taste profile, and it will definitely take some time to readjust to sugar levels of at least five grams of sugar per 100 ml of a final drink. This is why it is worth paying attention to the unsweetened beverage categories such as flavoured waters, and this category might grow fast due to this desire for less sugary drinks.

From another perspective, a sugar tax will probably affect the most popular beverage category for the past 30 years—energy drinks. These beverages have always been extremely sweetened, with a very sweet taste profile. However, we can notice interesting alterations in this range.

Natural energy drinks are coming into the market with less sugar, and the sweetness is coming more from natural sources such as grape juice, apple juice, stevia, agave syrup and sweeteners with low glycaemic index and lower calorie content. Natural caffeine from green coffee beans, green tea extract, guarana or yerba mate extracts are also getting more and more common in these drinks.

These drinks seem to be evolving into a beverage category for increasing concentration with a combination of natural caffeine and natural L-theanine—these two ingredients make a great tandem for people who need quality energy and focus during the day, such as students, office workers or even artists.

We can see that the beverage industry is not changing dramatically, but it is evolving in terms of offering more quality options, catering to customers with healthier and more interesting beverage concepts while simultaneously becoming clearer and cleaner in ingredients.