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Here, FoodBev provides a breakdown of five of the top trends set to influence beverage flavourings and ingredients this year and assesses how consumer demand is influencing growing innovation in this category.

Botanical infusions

Teas infused with botanical ingredients such as rose, lavender and hibiscus have long been popular flavourful additions to teas. However, 2020 is set to see growth in the botanical beverage additions that extend beyond the tea category.

The number of global food and beverages tracked with a botanical ingredient grew at an 8% annual growth rate from 2014-2018, according to Innova Market Insights. A 22% CAGR was noted in alcoholic beverages with botanical flavouring, making it an important area of growth.

The ‘gin revolution’ of recent years has led to innovation in this category, as gin has become increasingly popular amongst younger generations. Gin is made by distilling a base liquid with a variety of plant extracts but most specifically juniper berries, which gives the spirit its predominant flavour.

From 100% natural berry-infused Bombay Sapphire to blackberry and gooseberry Ben Lomond Gin, 2020 has been no stranger to gin innovation. However, it is not just the gin itself that has been the focus of botanical flavour experimentation, but the tonic that goes with it too.

One of the most notable trends of 2020 has been ready-to-drink beverages (RTDs), allowing companies to mix their flavourful tonics with their botanical gins. For example, earlier this year 6 O’clock Gin released a new range of flavoured RTD gins, including ‘damson & ginger’ and ‘exotic orange ‘options.

Floral and herbal flavourings are not just confined to the alcohol sector, and in fact, the beverage industry is witnessing a rising number of sparkling water brands add natural botanical ingredients. A recent innovation example includes Aura Bora’s new range of herbal sparkling waters that consists of five varieties: Cactus Rose, Lavender Cucumber, Peppermint Watermelon, Basil Berry and Lemongrass Coconut.

The global sparkling water market is expected to increase at a CAGR of 7.4% from 2019-2025. It is suggested that this growth is linked with the rising number of health-conscious consumers, as adding these fruity herbal aromas to waters can ultimately encourage rehydration.

Functional additions

With consumers inclining towards healthier product choices, gaining functional benefits from beverages has become an important part of beverage innovation in 2020.

Botanical infusions not only enhance a beverage’s flavour but they often claim medicinal properties that can treat various ailments. CBD is one of the most notable trends of recent functional beverage innovation.

For example, Calm Drinks debuted its multivitamin drink infused with CBD in May, in response to the focus on health that the Covid-19 outbreak has engendered among consumers. The drink, which was formulated to boost the immune system, is enriched with 14 vitamins and minerals and contains 10mg of CBD.

The demand for CBD infusions has been further exacerbated by rising anxieties amid stay-at-home restrictions. Trip’s recent Lemon Basil-flavoured CBD beverage was released earlier this month with the aim of providing calm during the chaos.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, multifunctional products are expected to proliferate beverage market opportunities further into 2020.

Plant-based milk

The global plant-based market has seen rapid growth in recent years. According to a report by Market Research Future, the global plant-based food market is predicted to see a 13.1% CAGR from 2019-2025.

The plant-based milk alternative sector has seen particular growth and is expected to reach $21.52 billion in 2024, growing at a 10.8% CAGR   from 2020-2024, according to Research and Markets. Soya milk, almond milk and oat milk have long been some of the most popular milk alternatives, but this sector has seen recent innovation and experimentation with other ingredients to provide new offerings.

For example, earlier this year, US plant-based beverage and snacks manufacturer Mamma Chia launched a dairy-free milk alternative range made from chia seeds. According to Mamma Chia, each serving of organic Chiamilk “is a nutritional powerhouse” with omega-3 and “more calcium than a glass of traditional milk”.

The industry has seen a variety of other innovative ingredients used as alternatives to dairy, including avocado milk, ultimately providing different flavours and options. Nut milk has also been a key area of innovation within this category, with cashew milk, pistachio milk and macadamia milk joining almond milk for a more varied consumer choice.


Mouthfeel can be used to describe the physical sensations in the mouth that are caused by food or drink consumption and is distinct from a products’ taste. It could refer to how delicate or light, creamy or milky, silky or smooth or even how watery a beverage may feel.

Mouthfeel is an important element of plant-based milk innovation, with companies aiming to match the same milky texture of dairy products. Israeli start-up ChickP launched a range of chickpea isolates especially designed for plant-based dairy alternative products.

ChickP’s founder, Ram Reifen said: “Plant-based milk alternatives that contain ChickP have been shown to mimic cow’s milk and yogurt better for taste, mouthfeel and nutritional value.”

Texturisation is another key part of mouthfeel innovation, with seltzer and sparkling water trends aiming to tingle taste buds. The hard seltzer market has seen rapid growth in 2020, with consumers demanding refreshment and hydration alongside their alcohol fix.

Small challenger brands and big alcohol brands alike have jumped on the hard seltzer trend. For example, Diageo added a new line of RTD seltzers to its Smirnoff portfolio in the UK, as it aimed to tap into the consumer demand for spritz-style drinks.

Low and no sugar

Perceptions of sugar are changing as consumer demand for healthy products is on the rise. Within the past 10 years, European countries including the UK, Finland, Hungary and France have introduced soft drinks taxes.

The amount of sugar sold in soft drinks in the UK fell by 29% between 2015-2018, according to new research by the Nuffield Department of Population Health (NDPH). This shift away from sugar as consumers seek more nutritional options has led to a demand for innovation in the low and no-sugar beverage market whilst continuing to maintain flavour.

For example, PepsiCo-owned Naked Juice launched a lower-sugar smoothie line in the UK earlier this year as a response to demands for reduced-calorie drinks. Charlotte Ashburner, senior marketing manager at PepsiCo said: “We created the Naked Lean range with these sugar-conscious consumers in mind, providing a healthier option without compromising on great taste.”

The alcohol category has also seen innovation in the low and no-sugar arena, with Quintessential Brands-owned Greenall’s Gin  adding to its zero-sugar flavoured gin range with the launch of a new Blood Orange and Fig Gin in the UK.

To meet this increasing consumer demand for reduced-sugar food and beverages, the end of 2019 saw Cargill-DSM joint venture Avansya open a facility for the production and fermentation of zero-calorie stevia sweeteners in the US.

Source: Five flavour and ingredient trends impacting the 2020 beverage industry – FoodBev Media

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