It has been a whirlwind season for the beverage industry in the U.S. With sugar-sweetened beverages so heavily under fire, standard soda and juice consumption is plummeting while a host of new beverages is taking their places on the shelves. Many of the top selling drinks today were virtually unheard of a few years ago. In this pivotal time to be in the beverage market, here are the top 4 changes we’re seeing:
#1 Back to Basics: Water
For a refreshing and guilt free drink, sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. It should come as no surprise that water is a widespread drink of choice; after all, it is literally essential to life itself, but lately bottled waters have surged in the drink world more than ever. Currently the second largest drink category, bottled waters are giving soft drinks a run for their money with such newfound popularity.
You may be wondering why people are suddenly paying for this otherwise free from the tap drink, but water is being reinvented. We now have flavored waters, sparkling waters, and even natural waters such as coconut water on the market; all of which are calorie-free, flavorful sources of hydration.
Want to check out one of our very own New England contributions to the water industry? Take a look at DRINKmaple, tapped directly from maple trees to the bottle, it is the refreshing taste of water with a hint of maple flavor and exploding with nutrients.
#2 A Boost from Nature: Natural Sports Drinks
First generation energy drinks, with their high sugar and quick-energy formulas, are becoming just as short lived as the energy boost they provide. The new generation of sports drinks has shifted the focus from insta-energy to nutrition, looking to natural ingredients for longer lasting recovery and impact. Nowadays, athletes are turning to proteins, flax and chia seeds, and algae for the nutrients they need. Even Pepsi’s Gatorade, the first born child of sports drinks, is launching a non-GMO, organic variety of Gatorade by the end of the year.
Here in Boston, one of the newest products in the natural sports drink world is Hylux. Through a student venture accelerator, founder and 4th year Northeastern student Lamar Letts just launched this product as a 100% natural, low sugar alternative to traditional sports drinks. Letts boasts that it is one of the “healthiest and most practical sports drinks on the market today.”
#3 DIY for the Environment: Bottle-free
You may have noticed a predominant low sugar theme in these trends, but beverages are revolutionizing more than our individual health. Among the many innovations of the green revolution, there is a strong focus on environmentally friendly packaging. From recycled materials like boxed water, beverage-tech has now gone a step further with at-home and on-tap drinks instead. There is no better eco-friendly packaging than no packaging at all!
We have a Bevi in the Branchfood office, and we love it! These products allow you to make your own carbonated drinks with as much or as little flavor as you want. Ranging from at-home carbonators like SodaStream to on-tap machines for the office, this is a potential game changer for the drink industry.
For another Bostonian innovator, consider adding Bevi to your office. With the goal of eliminating waste, Bevi was created to transform how drinks are delivered. This self-serve drink machine is designed to create a variety of drinks on demand in your work space, and it is customizable so you can decide how flavorful, how sweet, and even how carbonated you want your drink. It’s like having a set of drinks on tap in your office.
#4 A Story in Every Sip: Signature Drinks
Today's beverages are packed with much more than just their flavor. Taste matters, let’s not overlook that, but some of the hottest drinks on the market today also focus on selling a story. New or old, virtually every beverage out there has now has an About page detailing the birth of their product. These drinks engage with consumers on a more personal, emotional level and provide a reassuring honesty about where their ingredients came from.
Coming from the greater Boston area, X.O.I. fruit drinks' origin story starts with a journey to Vietnam. The creators, Myron and Linh, were staying in a rural farming village when they discovered the Gac superfruit, an exotic fruit loaded with vitamins and mineral. Unlike most overseas products, X.O.I has created a direct link between US customers and the farmers producing gac without the middleman. This fruit drink is teeming with delicious health benefits and flavor, but more than that, it supports farmers from one of the most underdeveloped regions in Vietnam.
We are beginning an era of rapid-fire turnover in the beverage industry, a beverage revolution if you will. These trends convey more than a shift from one phase to another. They reflect some amazing generational changes. What we purchase makes a powerful statement, and the statement this year is one to celebrate. People want healthier choices, natural ingredients, and to make a positive impact with the food and drinks they are purchasing. Be proud to be a part of it, Branchfood certainly is!
Interested in learning more about the 21+ side of the beverage scene in Boston? Check out Branchfood's newest event, The Business of Beer, to hear from a panel of local experts and sample a variety of craft beers!