Keeping a Clear Head: The Joys of Non-alcoholic Beverages

Photo: Ahoj-Brause

The beverage industry is experiencing high demand for non-alcoholic beverages across all categories.

Teenagers and young adults are extremely conscious of the importance of a healthy diet. Many therefore limit their alcohol intake or consume none at all. Nevertheless, they’re still having just as much fun, as creative non-alcoholic beverages are flying off the shelves of numerous stores. Many are even many available for the youngest of consumers.

Non-alcoholic beverages of course include sodas and juices. According to the market research firm IRI, soda has achieved revenue of EUR 983.3 million with sales of 1.18 billion liters (YTD AUG 21). This is mainly driven by hypermarkets followed by discounters and cash-and-carry beverage wholesalers. Fruit juices (FJs) have achieved revenue of EUR 1.2 billion, and sales of 868.3 million liters (YTD AUG 21). Furthermore, discounters account for the largest proportion of revenue, followed by hypermarkets.

According to IRI, fruit juice drinks (FJDs) are believed to have achieved revenue of EUR 292.5 million, and sales of 270 million liters (YTD AUG 21). Hypermarkets account for the largest proportion of revenue, followed by discounters. However, the latter have sold 133.6 million liters, which is considerably more than the hypermarkets with 88.2 million liters. “There are clear regional trends”, says IRI beverage expert Christina Steeg, “as North Rhine-Westphalia ranks first among the regions across all categories, both in terms of revenue and sales figures, closely followed by the north west.”

In the soft drinks category, revenue of EUR 3.3 billion and sales of 3.9 billion liters have been achieved (YTD AUG 21). As for distribution channels, hypermarkets are the strongest performers, followed by discounters. However, the latter are believed to have overtaken the hypermarkets as far as YTD and MAT AUG 21 sales figures. The region with the highest soft drink revenue and sales figures is North Rhine-Westphalia, followed by the north west and the north east.

In addition to sodas and juices, beverage producers offer other non-alcoholic categories, such as water, near-water products and iced teas. As this overview shows, there is no shortage of variety available.

Premium brand portfolio for young consumers

The portfolio of the company Drinks & More includes iconic brands, such as Orangina and Dr Pepper, as well as new trending brands such as Dirtea by Shirin David, Richard’s Sun Iced Tea and, as of November, Ahoj-Brause.

“We’re constantly striving to introduce new brands and products to the DACH market. In turn, we are constantly researching the market, including the global market, to ensure that we can spot the latest trends and possibly also introduce them here,” says Philipp Raddatz, the Managing Director responsible for Marketing & Sales, Drinks & More GmbH & Co. KG. “We therefore keep an eye on target groups, general domestic and global market developments, and consumer trends.”

As part of the Krombacher Group, Drinks & More generates constant growth in the premium beverage market. “Our passion for trends enables us to provide our consumers and purchasers with a unique and broad portfolio of premium brands, all from Europe’s trendiest city: Berlin. As such, within the Group we boast the expertise to establish and develop trending brands. Moreover, we ensure that long-established brands continue to be successful well into the future and customize our approach to each brand based on the requirements of its consumers and the market.” Drinks & More’s current portfolio, ranging from White Claw, Orangina, Proviant, and Dr Pepper right through to Richard’s Sun, and Dirtea, demonstrates just how diverse the products targeted at young consumers can be, as well as how distinct they need to be. Drinks & More intends to enter other new segments in 2022. “Accompanying marketing activities will focus heavily on digital channels and be extended to cover points of sale with eye-catching approaches”, says Philipp Raddatz.

The Dirtea (iced tea) brand appeals to a young target group. (Photo credit: Drinks & More))

Fresh ingredients, regional products and sustainability are gaining importance

Fritz-Kola and the company’s other products are essentially aimed at adults aged 18 and over. The classic Fritz-Kola is also available as No Sugar, Zero Sugar, Organic and Caramel Coffee varieties. Fritz-Limo is currently available as a Lemonade, an Orangeade, an Apple-Cherry-Elderberry Soda and a Honeydew Melon Soda. Fritz-Spritz, a range of organic sparkling juice drinks, includes an Organic Apple Spritzer, an Organic Grape Spritzer and an Organic Rhubarb Spritzer.

“Last year, we gave our classic Anjola Pineapple & Lime Soda a bit of a glow-up”, says Mirco Wolf Wiegert, Founder and Managing Director of Fritz-Kola. “This involved an improved recipe, new design and different bottle. All of this has enabled us to further improve the product’s organic credentials and reduce its related CO2.” Last but not least, the range also includes the Mischmasch (Mishmash) and Fritz-Mate products.

As for product development, the brand is aimed at young adults making increasingly conscious choices. They are interested in how and where products are made. “This is right up our alley”, says Mirco Wolf Wiegert. “We share these sustainable values and aspirations: Since founding the company, we have always used sustainable, reusable glass bottles and opted for decentralized bottling with regional contract bottlers.”

The demand for Fritz-Kola has grown across food retailers and cash-and-carry beverage wholesalers during the pandemic. The products have registered impressive growth. Then there is also the fact that, during the pandemic, there has been a real shift in how younger households think. These consumers tend to opt more for regional, sustainable products that contain fresh ingredients. “We see this as a strong trend”, says Wiegert. “The growing number of delivery services is also notable. Beverage wholesalers enable us to distribute our beverages to different groups of consumers.”

Light, sparkling juice drinks and sodas

Young target groups are adventurous and keen to try new varieties, ingredients and flavor combinations, according to Gerolsteiner. As such, a natural fruit flavor is in demand. These beverages shouldn’t taste too sweet, as consumers these days prefer light, sparkling refreshment, according to Marcus Macioszek, Head of Marketing at Gerolsteiner Brunnen. The calorie count is also becoming increasingly important. “This year, we launched two new sub-brands which fit that profile perfectly: In January, we added Gerolsteiner Light Spritzer, in both Apple and Apple & Cherry varieties, with a fruit content of 30%”, says Macioszek. In July, as a new addition to the growing soda segment, we introduced the Gerolsteiner Light Soda range with three varieties: Lemon & Ginger, Citrus & Mint and Orange & Passion Fruit.” All of these refreshing beverages are low in calories and contain 40% less sugar as compared to standard, commercially available branded sodas and apple spritzers. Like all Gerolsteiner soft drinks, the Light Spritzers and Light Sodas are vegan.

Even the packaging is essential when appealing to young consumers, as this target group prefers handy containers that make it easy to drink straight from the bottle and on-the-go. “We sell these soft drinks in Gerolsteiner 0.75-liter, single-use PET bottles. Our single-use PET bottles are made from 75% recycled PET”, explains Macioszek.

At points of sale, Gerolsteiner presents both Light Spritzers together with the classic Gerolsteiner Apple Spritzer in 0.75-liter, single-use PET bottles in triple-product mixed displays. When it comes to the Light Sodas, attractive mixed displays also encourage consumers to purchase different products they haven’t tried before.

Demand for natural refreshment

“We are both happy and relieved that, after the last 1.5 difficult years, the catering industry got back up and running over the summer. And, of course, we are really hopeful that the situation will continue to be the same in the fall”, says Thomas Blankenberg, National Sales Director, Rauch Fruchtsäfte Deutschland. “We are seeing that young people in particular want to get out and about again and live their lives. If concerts and large-scale parties are not being held, people still want to head over to their favorite pub and enjoy themselves, and more and more frequently they are opting for non-alcoholic beverages.”

According to Rauch, there is currently a high demand for simple, natural and refreshing products. Franz Josef Rauch Organic Spritzers made from NFC juice are quite popular: Naturally Cloudy Apple, Blackcurrant and Unfiltered Rhubarb. All of these spritzers are not only organic and vegan, but also have an impressive fruit content. “In fact, our Katharina Rauch Organic range available in small 0.2-liter bottles is also attracting young consumers”, says Thomas Blankenberg. “Our three organic products, Naturally Cloudy Apple, Apricot and Blackcurrant, reflect our deliberate intention to opt for homegrown varieties. Incidentally, for sustainability purposes, we sell these and many other varieties in reusable glass bottles.”

According to the company, their most popular non-alcoholic beverage among young people is still iced tea. The fruity Peach, Lemon and Pomegranate varieties, featuring a cool design and are available in on-trend, long-neck bottles, strike a chord with Gen Z. “When developing new products, we also pay close attention to the sugar content. Moreover, we regularly scrutinize this for existing products on the basis that we should use as little as possible but as much as is necessary.”

Retro sodas from Plose

Plose Quelle AG describes the taste of its vintage sodas as lively, sparkling and fantastic. The company, based in South Tyrol, sells a diverse range of 10 different varieties. They offer consumers a taste of la dolce vita. Alongside classics, such as Lemonade, Orangeade, Grapefruit Soda and Cola, there are true Italian originals, such as Chinotto, Gassosa and Spuma.

The Plose Retro Soda range includes other classics, too, such as Limonata, Aranciata, Pompelmo, Cola and Limo & Cola. They cover on-trend varieties, such as Acqua Tonica, and Ginger, and pays homage to the company’s Italian roots with Chinotto, Spuma, Cedrata and Gassosa. The Orangeade and Lemonade have a high fruit content of at least 12%, which is normal for Italian products. On the other hand, Pompelmo contains the bitter-sweet flavor of grapefruit. Chinotto has the bitter-sweet taste of the chinotto fruit, a bitter orange. And Gassosa has a fruity, sweet, lemony taste, whereas Acqua Tonica features a typically bitter flavor profile. Cedrata has the lemony, fruity taste of the citron fruit, which is widely used in Italy. And then Spuma is a traditional Italian herbal soda.

When developing non-alcoholic beverages, in particular for young consumers, Dr. Andreas Fellin, Managing Director of Plose Quelle AG, says: “First and foremost, the flavor profile absolutely must meet the current needs of young consumers. As such, we move with the times and develop our non-alcoholic beverages based on the target group’s preferences. Where possible, we also prioritize the use of organic and, most importantly, sugar-free ingredients.”

Cool Collection

“Essentially, the products targeted at young people primarily need to be hip and on-trend”, says Olaf Jark, Head of Marketing at Valensina GmbH. “The entire beverage industry has described the unwavering demand for non-alcoholic beverages across all segments as a ‘liquid evolution’.”

On account of how natural they are, chilled NFC juices have particularly contributed to the trend which gained further momentum as a result of the pandemic. “Our new Cool Collection offers younger consumers chilled single-fruit varieties. This range of varieties and flavors can be used to prepare homemade spritzers or creative cocktails and mocktails. However, they can also be used to create healthy dishes such as popular smoothie bowls”, says Jark. Product descriptions, such as “Sunny Orange”, “Refreshing Rhubarb” and “Exotic Passion Fruit” are designed to arouse curiosity. With its creative branding incorporating fruit into the images displayed and its use of sustainable packaging materials (rPET), the Cool Collection is primarily designed to appeal to a younger, environmentally conscious consumer group.

According to Valensina, the fruit juice market has returned to growth for the first time in 17 years (2003) due to the pandemic. “Consumers are increasingly interested in natural products with less processing and no added sugar. This is evidenced by recent surveys and is also reflected in our sales figures”, explains Jark.

Organic non-alcoholic beverages

Neumarkter Lammsbräu offers young consumers a range of 12 different beverages, ranging from classic varieties such as Orange, Lemon and Now Black Cola right through to special blends such as Now Pink Rhubarb and the Now Seasonal Special, which changes every year and is available for a limited time in spring. “Next year, we will also expand the range to include three delicious Light varieties containing a combination of select organic fruit juices and organic stevia tea extract”, says Johannes Ehrnsperger, Owner and Managing Director of Neumarkter Lammsbräu. The new additions to the range will be called Now Light Black Cola, Now Light Cassis Lime and Now Light Ginger Orange.

According to Ehrnsperger, young people are becoming increasingly concerned with issues such as the environment and sustainability. This is also the case when they purchase beverages. As such, Neumarkter Lammsbräu intends to make waves with its sustainable corporate concept and 100% organic range right from the outset. “However, when we develop new products, we ensure not only that we consistently implement our corporate philosophy right through to our products being poured into the consumer’s glass, but also that our beverages are enjoyable and fun”, says Ehrnsperger. “And, of course, we also note our fans desires and incorporate their requests directly into our products. In turn, we are launching our own campaigns, for example as part of the development of our Now FanTasty 2020, or the upcoming Seasonal Special Now Fresh Berry for 2022. At the same time, as a family-run business, we also benefit from the fact that requests and suggestions for the range often come directly from our talented new recruits and young employees.”  

Refreshing drinks made fun

Essentially, all Vöslauer beverages are also suitable for young consumers, as they contain little or no sugar. Furthermore, no preservatives or sugar substitutes are used in the production process. And, all Vöslauer beverages are vegan.

“Our Vöslauer Junior range, which underwent a redesign in spring, is designed especially for the younger target group”, says Birgit Aichinger, Managing Director of Vöslauer Mineralwasser GmbH. “The adapted bottle shape and cute labels featuring four adorable animal designs mean that the range is bright and fun for all the family. Collectible stickers, children’s tattoo transfers and a digital augmented reality experience also feature in the relaunch of the popular Vöslauer Junior range. This will help children learn as they play.” The Vöslauer Junior products contain nothing more than natural, non-carbonated mineral water with balanced mineralization. Vöslauer Juniors have been available as part of the McDonald’s Happy Meal since the start of the year in Austria, and since March in Germany.

The sugar-free Lemon, Orange, Raspberry and Lemongrass versions of Vöslauer Flavours, as well as the two new versions (Blackcurrant and Clementine) are particularly popular in Germany. Vöslauer Flavours are flavored sparkling mineral waters that have no calories, no sugar and no sugar substitutes. They are also 100% vegan. “But our Balance Juicy Red Fruits – Echinacea is also very popular. With an extra portion of vitamin C, it provides the immune system with an added boost”, says Aichinger.

Vöslauer Flavour Clementine
Vöslauer Flavours are very popular in Germany. (Photo credit: Vöslauer)


The market is clearly presenting a large range of non-alcoholic beverages for young people that is being continuously expanded to include creative new products. Beverage producers are therefore also meeting the needs of this young target group of consumers who are either too young to be allowed to drink alcohol or have made a conscious decision not to drink alcohol for health reasons. These attractive and creative beverages are also allowing producers to enable customers to be adventurous and try new products by purchasing them in store or enjoying them in bars and restaurants. Without a doubt, there is certainly no shortage of alternatives to alcoholic beverages.

Would you like to find out about current trends on the beverage market and exchange professional information? Then we invite you to take part in the next drinktec, which will be held in Munich from September 12 to 16, 2022.

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Verlag W. Sachon

The publishing house W. Sachon, headquartered at Mindelburg Castle, publishes nine established trade journals that regularly provide their readers with exciting and interesting information. The emphasis lies in the brewing and beverage industry. The specialized publications are published in German, English, Spanish and Mandarin. A national and an international newsletter as well as an SMS Executive Flash complete the print offer digitally.