2019 beverage trends: Bitter flavors, cold brew teas and probiotics are on the menu, says Treatt

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09 Jan 2019 --- Sustainability, veganism and health are three macro trends that continue to dominate innovation in food and drink today. Treatt has uncovered how these macro trends will influence flavors and processes in the beverage category. The company has touted the trends that it believes are here to stay for 2019 and beyond, including cold brew teas and probiotic beverages, as consumers seek to support mental, physical and environmental health.

Treatt is an ingredients manufacturer to the global flavor, fragrance and consumer goods markets from their bases in the UK, US and China. The company creates flavors for tonics, carbonated soft drinks, flavored waters, teas, beers, spirits and juices. 

According to Treatt, innovation in vegetable-based and herbal products will continue to emerge across different categories, as consumers gravitate towards “plant-forward” lifestyles – for people who are not necessarily vegan or vegetarian but prefer the majority of their meals to be plant-based, for example. 

Owing to the concerns around the efficacy of vitamins and supplements, consumers look towards whole foods for their medicinal properties. Products such as aloe vera, cannabidiol, coconut and algae will continue to be formulated into beverages to fulfill consumers’ nutritional goals, as on-the-go functionality remains an essential purchase driver.  

Exotic spices such as cardamom, ginger, jalapeno and turmeric will continue to grow as well with the demand for ethnic flavors, says Treatt. Botanical flavors such as floral, herbal and spicy also continue to show strong growth, according to market researcher Innova Market Insights. 

As consumers become more open to trying new flavors from around the globe, flavor creation, innovation and combinations are set to become much more exciting. Traditional flavors will continue to have a place in NPD, especially in specific categories, such as beverages, but there will be more scope for flavor development now that “adventurous” consumers are eager to seek out new experiences in 2019.

Protein and dietary fiber will also be formulated into an array of products to meet consumers macronutrient needs, enhance texture and overall appeal.  

Are bitter flavors better-for-you?

As consumers become more accustomed to less sweet products, bitter and sour are gaining popularity in beverages as they are perceived as ‘“better-for-you.”’ Celery juice is gaining attention over social media for its health benefits, as vegetables become increasingly trendy. Mixologists are also using more bitter ingredients including aquafaba (a vegan foam made from the discarded water from chickpeas) in cocktails to excite consumers with unexpected textures. 

Concerns over sustainability are encouraging greater use of seasonal, foraged and waste ingredients. This has resulted in wonky fruit and discarded fruit peels being used inventively in beverages, from cocktails to flavored waters, to help minimize food waste.  

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Cold brew teas  

As consumers look to reduce their intake of carbonated soft drinks (CSD’s) and cut down on alcohol, drinking turns mindful, tea is proving a popular alternative to high sugar soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. Consumers want products that help them live better; whether they are stress-relieving, antioxidant boosting, immune boosting or weight loss aiding. Exotic blends and adaptogens will continue to be formulated into cold brew and iced teas as growing interest in global flavors continues to grow.  

Consumer desire for clean, natural and real ingredients has fueled the use of floral flavor applications in the food and beverage industry. A growing number of products communicate the natural infusion of floral flavors, targeting low-sugar and low-calorie demands or targeting seasonal goods by associating flowers to the time of year.  For example, Innova Market Insights reports a 31 percent increase in average annual growth of food and beverage launches with lavender flavor (Global, 2013-2017).

Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, during Food Matters Live at the end of last year, Charlotte Catignani, Treatt’s Research and Development Manager, believes that citrus flavors will continue to make waves in the soft drink industry and unusual citrus fruits will begin to dominate shelf space this year. 

“We expect to see more variations on citrus flavors, such as pink tiger lemon, Indian citrus flavors and more tea flavors, which are always developing and gaining further interest,” she comments.

Water plus 

The functional water category continues to grow, driven by health-conscious consumers, added vitamins, minerals, collagen and natural caffeine are just a few of the examples of added functionality in this space. In the unsweetened beverage category, flavors such as citrus fruit will remain strong, according to Treatt.

As health-conscious consumers are increasingly looking for light and fresh goods and associating flavors are gaining momentum, lemon, mint and lime flavors will continue to freshen-up a wide range of categories and hints of flavors that provide a subtle refreshment. Innova Market Insights reports a 21 percent increase in average annual growth of food and beverage launches with mint and menthol flavors (Global, 2013-2017).

The future is fermentation  

Digestive health is a significant trend and is yet to reach its full potential. As consumers strive to achieve overall wellness, highly processed is being disregarded. This is as natural processes such as fermentation are becoming a popular method for preservation as well as to keep clean label claims. Probiotic beverages such as milk and water kefir as well as vinegar-based beverages are continuing to emerge on the shelves, with kombucha expected to be the next go-to mixer.

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