Summer Beverages Are Reinvigorating Foodservice

Thursday, October 7th, 2021

As the foodservice sector reopens, limited time offer beverages are key in attracting consumers back to your brand. By Aileen Dowd, Marketing Executive, Kerry & extracted from KerryDigest Blog.

Limited time offer (LTO) beverages are a sure-fire way for foodservice brands to reinvigorate their menus. Seasonal LTOs drive sales by attracting new and existing consumers who want to experiment with new flavours and beverage types. Not only can seasonal drinks increase store visits, but they also generate greater brand awareness online: With restrictions still in place in some European markets, social media was the only way for brands to promote their seasonal LTOs, making it the launchpad for most of the innovation we are seeing. For consumers looking to escape the uncertainty and worry surrounding COVID-19, foodservice brands and LTOs are well-positioned to deliver on the joyful experiences and escapism that new research says consumers are looking for. 

To eliminate the guesswork from crafting seasonal beverages that consumers will love, and to ensure your brand stands out from the crowd with the latest on-trend flavours, formats and ingredients, our researchers have been tracking summer LTO trends. Our latest report “Art of Taste and Nutrition: Summer Beverages” analyses nearly 300 LTOs in Europe, Russia and beyond and will equip you with the insights and trends needed to curate a winning LTO menu for future summer seasons. In this article, we examine some of the key findings from the report and interpret what they mean for foodservice brands. Iced beverages are summer’s hero platform.

Iced Beverages Are Summer’s Hero Platform

If you’re looking for a starting place for summer LTOs, iced beverages represent a huge opportunity for foodservice brands. Around 88 percent of all LTOs in the summer of 2021 were on iced beverage platforms: over ice, blended ice, lemonades, etc. Iced drinks tick all the boxes when it comes to refreshment, indulgence, customisation and new and exciting flavour combinations. We anticipate iced beverages becoming more popular throughout the year, but brands can’t ignore their importance in the summer season as warm weather, outdoor socialising and summer holidays are the perfect conditions for an iced drink. 

Flavour Trends Driving Summer 2021 LTO Innovation

This latest report, “Art of Taste and Nutrition: Summer Beverages”, included a 12-market study of LTO beverages across Europe and Russia. With this pan-European approach we can bring you reliable insights on what is driving summer beverage innovation.

Amongst our findings: There was a strong performance this year in authentic fruit flavour profiles. Strawberry and mango were the top beverage LTO flavours, indicating consumers have an interest in both mainstream flavours as well as tropical taste profiles. In third place, caramel joined the top summer flavours, highlighting that comfort and indulgence were growing purchase drivers for consumers living through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Here are some other findings:

  • The Citrus Revival: We found that 13 percent of all LTOs in the summer of 2021 were citrus-based. There has been a renewed interest in citrus flavours for summer beverages for a few reasons: citrus flavours offer the ultimate refreshment during hotter months, but they also benefit from their association with healthy, immune-boosting properties. Food and beverage products linked to immunity have been increasingly popular with consumers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research from both Kerry and Innova.
  • Authentic Fruit Flavours: As mentioned above, strawberry and mango came out on top this year as the preferred flavours for summer LTOs. Such flavours were found in the popular iced tea and lemonade platforms, as well as in a few surprising categories. For instance, this year coffee brands put an emphasis on the addition of real fruit pieces and flavours, with the introduction of the fruit refresher platform into the European coffee shop channel. To bring authentic fruit flavours to life, brands have also crafted beverages around seasonal fruits to elevate and add a premium touch to their LTO offering.
  • The Comfort Factor: Due to the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, consumers continue to look for comfort and reassurance. Comfort-based LTOs are a winning combination: LTOs remain a treat in the mind of the consumer, and they offer that bit of fun and excitement to enjoy an indulgent moment. Decadent blended-ice style beverages fit this trend; considering caramel was a “top 3” flavour for the first time this summer it’s clear just how important the trend of comfort and indulgence has been in 2021.

Future Trends In Summer LTOs

With a clear view of what’s been trending across European and Russian markets this summer, we were better able to make predictions about future trends and LTO strategies. Using Kerry Trendspotter, a proprietary artificial intelligence tool, we uncovered emerging summer beverage flavour trends which will help you to stay ahead of the curve. 

Based on thousands of online interactions, Google search data and user generated content, we were able to identify not yet mainstream flavours that are trending online this summer LTO season, although most are not yet widely available in the mass market. 

The data led us to discover two key citrus flavours that are poised to become mainstream and popular for summer months in years to come: blood orange and grapefruit. As we delved a little further into those two flavours, we saw that the macro trends around health and wellness—with a particular focus on immunity—were driving their popularity. 

The opportunity to win in the summer LTO beverage market is clear, as foodservice starts to reopen and consumers return to the high street. There is a need for both refreshing and indulgent beverages which support consumer’s health and their desire for comforting treats. 


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