Stronger Drink Profiles To Dominate The Beverage Market

Friday, May 13th, 2022

Why are consumers seeking strong flavours for their beverages? To what extent is COVID-19 responsible?

Over the last decade, the beverage industry has experienced a drastic shift in consumer trends. Trends over the last five years indicate that people are looking towards healthier, yet equally flavourful alternatives. 

The pandemic further accelerated this by putting into perspective the importance of health and wellness for many people. Unsurprisingly, their tastes have changed along with their newfound commitment and dedication to health, and this is reflected not only in the type of drinks they consume but the intensity of flavours in those drinks as well. 

Emerging Preference For Bold And Healthy Tastes

In the past, drinks with more subtle flavours were popular due to the demand for seltzer. However, as with all trends, the market has diluted and now beverage manufacturer must find ways to stand out from the crowd. One way is to produce bold, strong drinks that are not only tasty, but good for health. 

According to Kerry’s 2022 Taste Charts, flavours like black sesame, nutmeg, cloves, chestnuts and other earthy flavours were part of the 20 fastest growing flavours for beverages in 2021. These flavours are typically found in savoury foods all over Asia and the inclusion of them is unsurprising given that many have known health benefits. In particular, ginger, which has an earthy and somewhat spicy flavour is a superfood known to be high in antioxidants and immunity boosting properties. This information is known to even people outside Asia where a survey showed that over 78 percent of global consumers believe that ginger has positive health effects. 

These bold, healthy flavours also cater to the new market of post-COVID-19 patients. Since the virus is known to attack a person’s sense of taste and smell, these beverages could provide reassurance for those recovering from virus-related sensory loss and make them feel like they are contributing positively to their health.

Clean And Nostalgic Flavours Continue Trending

Ironically, the increasing concern over ingredients in product lists have resulted in consumers wanting to see less rather than more on product lists. This concern stems from how longer product lists are thought to contain more additives and preservatives which are undesirable for today’s health-conscious consumers. 

“Transparency has, time and time again, proven to be important to consumers. Many clients seeking compliance with Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and other ‘better-for-you’ food and beverage retailers have simply opted to do away with sweeteners or added colors instead of combing through the accepted ingredient lists. Consumers don’t seem to mind,” said Katie Clark, Lab Manager, Flavorman.

This preference for clean products indicates a desire to return to simplicity; a time when life was less complicated. Such preferences directly influence the flavours people choose to consume as well. A study indicated that 84 percent of global consumers liked traditional flavours in food and beverages. Childhood favourites such as watermelon, strawberry, peach, apple and grape will continue to see popularity as consumers reach for these familiar tastes from their childhoods. 

Comforting Flavours With A Twist

The need for familiarity is undeniable when living in the current uncertain landscape. However, to avoid losing out, businesses cannot rely on solely nostalgia and comfort to sell products in an oversaturated market. They must do their due diligence to combine nostalgia and newness into innovative, yet healthy products that will get audiences excited. The most popular comfort flavour profile is sweet. Businesses must then think about how to give this beloved flavour a unique twist. Examples include chili hot chocolate and ginger cinnamon hot chocolate. 

A report stated that 41 percent of U.S consumers are interested to try new flavours that are similar to their favourites. The added element of spices into a familiar food like chocolate gives consumers a sense of ‘safe adventure’ and will encourage unadventurous consumers to try out new offerings.

Original flavours aside, companies can also benefit from adding different textures to their drinks. The bubble tea market for example, is expected to reach US$ 3.39billion by 2027 with Asia Pacific being the largest consumer base. Despite its name, the drink does not always come in the form of tea but sometimes appears as fruit juice or flavoured smoothies. Businesses can tap into the trend of boba pearls and add their own spin on pearl flavours. Common ones include popping pearls of various fruit flavours or jellies. 

Guilt-Free Alcohol

Despite the desire to be healthy, consumers still want to indulge in their favourite alcoholic beverages and they want to do so without harming the planet. Flavours and products that can accommodate these needs are, as a result, highly sought after.

Botanical flavours such as hibiscus, jasmine and lavender are just a few of the floral profiles approaching mainstream popularity due to their frequent usage in spirits in the premium sector. Their distinct natural flavour balance of bitter and sweet also go well mixed with fruits and hard seltzer in place of alcohol. 

The trend of healthier alcoholic beverages stems from consumers’ ultimate desire to ‘drink healthier’. While this does not mean that people are no longer drinking alcohol, they are exploring guilt-free ways to enjoy drinking.

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Over the last decade, the beverage industry has experienced a drastic shift in consumer trends. Trends over the last five years indicate that people are looking towards healthier, yet equally flavourful alternatives. 

The pandemic further accelerated this by putting into perspective the import


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