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Social media is influencing consumer trends within the hot beverage category giving rise to cozy, “comfort” flavors that signal autumnal weather. FoodIngredientsFirst takes a closer look at the space, where among staple fall flavors, dessert and alcohol-inspired mashups, as well as functional benefits, are making a splash in tea and coffee NPD.

“Social networks are increasingly impacting consumer trends in beverages,” says Kévin Bangratz, marketing researcher at Prova.

“For example, we have seen a lot of videos on Instagram, Twitter and even TikTok dealing with Dalgona coffee. We have also watched many videos of Hot Chocolate Bomb, Espresso Bomb or Tea Bomb preparations.”

Traditional favorite coffee flavors such as chocolate, caramel butterscotch, hazelnut and toffee grow in popularity once again.

Winter is coming
As we move into the fall and winter months, consumption of hot beverages will increase as temperatures drop, according to Amanda Collins, senior strategic marketing manager, foodservice beverages brands for Kerry Europe and Russia.

“We begin to see an explosion of indulgence beginning with the old favorite spiced pumpkin latté – always a firm menu favorite. Then moving into the festive season, we see traditional favorites such as caramel, chocolate, butterscotch, hazelnut and toffee grow in popularity once again.”

“These generally are coupled with winter berries and Christmas spices such as apple, cranberry, winter fruits, gingerbread, honeycomb and winter spices.”

Tea and infusions
The ever-popular flavored teas are proliferating within the hot beverage space as the winter season is approaching. According to Innova Market Insights, top flavors in teas include ginger, lemon, chamomile and orange.

Moringa, eucalyptus, anise, cloves, cherry, red berry, lemon balm, rosehip, apple cinnamon, cocoa and passion fruit are the other flavors growing in popularity, the market researcher says (Global, CAGR October 2020 to March 2021).

Infusions are very popular with consumers, particularly in the pandemic context, as they are seen as natural and “feel good” beverages, Bangratz notes.

Regarding tea, spice blends are on trend, following the influence of chai tea. “More and more consumers can be considered as tea experts, and they are looking for more exotic notes.”

Many launches combine tea with ginger, cinnamon, cardamom or turmeric flavors. The queen of spices, vanilla, is also frequently used to flavor tea, he supports.

Ginger, cinnamon, cardamom or turmeric flavors, as well as vanilla, are frequently used to flavor tea.

“For a few years now, rooibos has also been on the rise. In addition, mate has experienced a spectacular take-off, while bubble teas continue to make their way into the eating habits of consumers around the world in a great variety of flavors,” Bangratz continues.

Indulgent coffee flavors
Coffee flavors are also experiencing a lot of flavor innovation, as the world’s most-consumed hot beverage continues to diversify within a highly saturated market.

According to Innova Market Insights data, the global market for coffee increased 6% in value between 2019 and 2020. Canada, Finland and Denmark had the biggest market share by “consumption per capita” for 2019 and 2020.

Bangratz says that when it comes to coffee, “brown flavors” are on the rise.

“We have noticed several launches with innovative brown flavor combinations such as vanilla crème brûlée, caramel cookie, hazelnut muffin, amaretto nut, maple bourbon or hot buttery rum.”

Innova Market Insights says that top flavors for coffee include staples such as hazelnut and caramel, vanilla, milk chocolate and chicory bean. Apart from traditional flavors, others also growing in popularity include toffee, nuts, almond, cinnamon, coconut, French vanilla, amaretto nut and peppermint (Global, October 2020 to March 2021).

Functional benefits in beverages
Collins details that Kerry has seen the trend toward fortification in beverages accelerating as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Immunity is globally the number one reason for consumers buying into the health and wellness food and beverage products, and is now becoming a more regular menu item. In addition, flexitarian indulgence has exploded this year and we see more and more plant-based beverages in the marketplace.”

Kerry says the trend toward fortification in beverages accelerated as a result of the pandemic.

In the context of the pandemic, there are more consumers seeking immunity support through their consumption of hot beverages. In recent months, there has been a plethora of launches, including teas with nutrients such as vitamins A, C and D, says Prova’s Bangratz.

“Consumers are looking for functional beverages that allow them to stimulate themselves or relax. This last point explains the rise of cannabidiol (CBD) infused drinks. Infusions containing valerian and melatonin have been observed. Among the functional ingredients that are in the air, we also have mushrooms such as Reishi, Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps or Chaga.”

“Functional hot beverages can also include beauty claims. This is the case with certain collagen-enriched drinks.”

Meanwhile, Kerry Foodservice recently launched a new immunity liquid under the DaVinci Gourmet brand.

“This product helps operators create immunity supporting beverages. Containing Wellmune, which is clinically proven to help strengthen the immune system, and zinc, the liquid is free from sugar and artificial flavors. It does not impact the taste of hot or cold beverages,” explains Collins.

Masking unpleasant notes
However, some functional ingredients may have an unpleasant aftertaste and need masking flavors, Bangratz flags.

“Prova is currently launching a portfolio of micro-granulated flavors for hot beverages, and specifically for teabags,” notes Marie Le Beller, product manager at Prova.

“Micro-granules not only make the dosage easier, but they also allow to better preserve flavoring compounds and to reveal all the richness of their aroma.”

Available in organic or conventional, the range is just starting and can be adapted to an entire product offering, such as vanilla, caramel or nut flavors.

Source: TikTok and Insta-inspired hot beverage trends give rise to cozy, “feel-good” fall flavors