Trends: The non-alcoholic beverage industry in 2038

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The trends forecast by market research companies for the non-alcoholic beverage industry for 2019 are not all that surprising. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to remember that these are trends that the industry has been experiencing for some time, although, admittedly, with varying degrees of intensity and change. In other words, these are trends that have a tendency to strengthen and could, as a result, be very significant for every success story.

For 2019, market research agency Mintel predicts three global food-and-drink trends: “evergreen consumption,” “through the ages,” and “elevated convenience.”

Trend in the non-alcoholic beverage industry: a circular view of sustainability

“In 2019, demand for more corporate sustainability programs will grow as consumers better understand what’s required to get closer to achieving a truly circular food and drink economy,” says Jodie Minotto, Research Manager at Mintel Food and Drink Asia Pacific, referring to the “evergreen consumption” trend. Which more or less means that sustainability will be considered more holistically and over the entire product life cycle. It’s not enough to be sustainable just in your own company. From the consumer’s point of view, everything that has to do with the drink and the packaging will be relevant for developing trust. Ideally, a circular approach will ensure that all resources are kept in sight and are used for as long as possible.

For example, for many soft-drink manufacturers, the subject of plastics and organic-based packaging materials will become increasingly important, as many consumers put this on a level with plastic waste in the world’s oceans. In this light, SodaStream follows an interesting approach. The company recently developed a seagoing unit called Holy Turtle, which fishes plastic from the ocean. The motto here is to pitch in and tackle the problems together.

Stay fit and healthy no matter how old you are with non-alcoholic beverages

With its second forecasted trend, “through the ages,” Mintel is taking account of consumers’ desire to live longer and be healthier. Food and beverages that support this goal are becoming increasingly important for consumers. It’s no longer enough “just” to drink healthy non-alcoholic beverages, but rather healthy non-alcoholic beverages that fit the consumer’s lifestyle. For example, SternVitamin offers beverage producers individual micronutrient premixes designed to suit different life phases. Beginning with the desire to have a baby, through pregnancy, school, university and career, to old age. A micronutrient composition produced specially for vegans is also possible.

Döhler is one producer that develops tailored concepts for different consumer target groups. For example, the company has a wide range of adult soft drinks with high quality ingredients, such as NFC juices, botanical extracts, fermented juices, exotic spices and malt extracts. According to Christoph Witte, Head of Product Management B2C, Döhler, the aim is to offer consumers an increasing range of healthy product solutions. Such as when it comes to water. “Water in its original state enriched with natural essences or botanical extracts meets peoples’ need for healthy lifestyle drinks with no calories. Water that is enriched with vitamins also offers the perfect solution,” says Witte.

For beverage producers, it is certainly also a challenge to continuously reconsider their own range and adapt it to suit consumers’ specific health requirements. The juice and smoothie producer innocent, for example, recently expanded its product range with three new plant-based drinks – oat, almond, and hazelnut & rice – and joined the growing market for plant-based milk alternatives. Which also shows that it is certainly possible to think outside the box when it comes to beverage categories.

More adventurous flavors and multi-sensory culinary experiences for consumers

A completely different approach that goes beyond traditional thinking can be found in the spirits and cocktail sector. Industry insiders predict a great deal of success for cocktails with little or no alcohol in 2019. This is also relevant for the global trend “through the ages.” The world’s first non-alcoholic distilled spirit, Seedlip, which was launched in 2016, shows how successful alcohol-free can be in a market that was previously dominated by drinks with a high alcohol content. According to Claire Smith Warner, Head of New Brands at Seedlip, “there is growing demand for experience cocktails that are as complex and elaborate as food. The aim is not to completely replace alcoholic beverages. The idea is that mixologists experiment.”

This is a position the market research institute Innova Market Insights has also confirmed while regarding increasingly adventurous consumers as being the most significant among the top ten trends in 2019 in the food and beverage industry. “Consumers are leaving their comfort zones to discover more adventurous flavors and multi-sensory culinary experiences. One of the focuses is on increased sensory impressions, often combined with an element of the unexpected,” says Innova Market Insights.

They also report that consumers want more plant-based options in their diet and that, due to an increasing focus on health and sustainability, food replacements and ingredients become more important, customers have more expectations with regard to sustainability, and snacks are no longer an optional extra but a clear occasion for enjoyment. Which, on the whole, is largely in agreement with the statements from Mintel.

Convenience in many different ways

The final statement also corresponds to the third global trend predicted by Mintel: elevated convenience. “In the area of juice, for example, we see an increasing number of snack drinks – or functional smoothies that include plant-based proteins such as seeds and cereals and other functional superfoods. Wellness shots are also up and coming,” believes Mintel analyst Julia Buech.

Elevated convenience also plays an important role in the area of beverage packaging. The new Heat & Go packaging is one example of an interesting new development. Ali Kaylan, Vice President of Global Marketing at SIG: “Our new high-barrier aseptic carton ‘Heat&Go’ can be heated in the microwave up to 60°C, with a recommended temperature of 50°C, by allowing brands and co-packers to launch innovative nutritional hot beverage products into new channels and categories.” The first product in the Heat&Go packaging is “Achimae” soy milk from the South Korean Seoul Dairy Cooperative. It is a soy milk drink containing chickpea protein, which is designed to be served as a warm, on-the-go breakfast.

What are the trend predictions for the non-alcoholic beverage industry in 2038?

Enough of the predicted non-alcoholic beverage trends for 2019. For QVC, that’s not far enough. In its recent study “Living 2038,” the digital commerce company discusses the trends that the food and beverage industries can expect in 20 years’ time. With regard to the results, principle investigator Professor Peter Wippermann says, “the nutrition products of the future will be aimed not only at physical but also increasingly at mental wellbeing.” For example, today already 70 percent of people in Generation Z want to be able to think faster, more creatively and in a more focused manner. 53 percent of teenagers can imagine using nutrients or training concepts to improve their thinking capacity in the future. Also, a majority of those surveyed believe that in the future, nutrition will be coordinated automatically to individual needs. “The idea that the key could be our DNA and nutrition tailored to our genetic profile is already gathering pace,” says Professor Wippermann. For instance, in the U.S., biotechnology company 23andMe already offers health research and diet plans based on a genetic test. Nestlé also recently started a nutrition program in Japan that is based on the results of DNA and blood tests.

Courage as the basic requirement

All in all, the trends described show that companies will no longer be able to rest on their laurels in the future and that consumers want to be surprised by innovative products that support their personal health planning. To take full account of this, it is certainly useful not only to be aware of trends in your own region but also to know about developments in other countries and on other continents. And last but not least, the most important thing is to be brave enough to translate promising new ideas into action.

Friederike Arndt

As a freelance trade journalist, Friederike Arndt is regarded as an expert in the area of beverages. She spent a long time writing for, inter alia, the trade magazines Getränkeindustrie (beverage industry) and Getränkefachgroßhandel (beverage wholesale trade). On the blog, she reports on the latest trends and innovations in the field of non-alcoholic beverages.