E. Liz Sloan

A. Elizabeth Sloan

Lifeway ProBugs Kefir

Lifeway offers microbiome-friendly ProBugs Kefir for kids.

Lifeway ProBugs Kefir

Lifeway offers microbiome-friendly ProBugs Kefir for kids.

U.S. consumers are thirsty for new beverage options. Beverages dominated IRI’s New Product Pacesetters list of the best-selling new foods and beverages last year, filling eight of the 10 top spots. Beverage sales in multi-outlet channels have risen 8.9% in 2022, per IRI, while online sales growth has topped 20%.

Hydration, energy, and mental health benefits are among the top drivers of beverage choices, followed by weight management, superfood ingredients, and meal replacement, according to the 2022 Boosted Beverage report from research firm HealthFocus. Pandemic-accelerated health concerns, inflationary pressures, and a focus on home-centric activities are prompting consumers to shift more of their drink dollars toward sports and energy drinks, waters, and other better-for-you options.

"Hydration, energy, and mental health benefits are among the top drivers of beverage choices."

Here’s a look at some of the key beverage category product trends.

• Hydration and Energy. Sales of energy beverages reached $17.8 billion, up 14.1% for the year ended June 12, 2022, versus the prior year, per IRI; sports drinks sales totaled $10.2 billion, up 18%. Recoup Beverage’s Resilience Sparkling Hydration Beverage is one example; it supports muscle recovery and replenishment without a caffeine crash.

Expect a new wave of affordable powdered energy/sports drink mixes to contribute to sales growth. Z Natural Foods’ Organic Electrolyte Pineapple Coconut Water Powder rehydrates to boost immunity and energize the body. Ghost Sour Patch Hydration Sticks add electrolytes and gummy bits to water for a super-hydrating, fun experience. The Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier + Immune Support Drink Mix claims to enhance the body’s ability to rapidly absorb water.

New juice-based Bolts 2-ounce shots from Bolthouse Farms are designed to support energy, immunity, and digestion. The lineup of Dole Boosted Blends frozen fruit for making smoothies includes a Berry Spark variety for “Brain + Cognitive Health.”

HealthFocus reports that almost a quarter (23%) of consumers globally use functional beverages twice a week or more. Heavy users are interested in Ayurvedic ingredients, adaptogens, postbiotics, beta-glucan, turmeric, medicinal mushrooms, coconut oil, and CBD.

Juice/drink concentrates that add flavor or health benefits grew 26.8% in unit sales for the year ended Feb. 20, 2022, per IRI; unit sales of liquid drink enhancers climbed by 8.4%. Built by Bees’ Be Razzled Honey Shrub is billed as a prebiotic and probiotic health tonic suitable for enhancing hot teas, waters, and cocktails.

Stewart’s Enterprise Holdings’ Bounce Back beverage is said to replenish the nutrients lost after a night on the town. BBGLO Skin Rejuvenation Collagen Drink delivers 5,000 mg of collagen peptides to help promote youthful-looking skin.

• Family-Friendly Options. Research from flavor company T. Hasegawa suggests that households with children are a good market target. Eight in 10 parents who use nutrition drinks want more products specific to children’s health, according to the company’s 2022 Food and Beverage Flavor Trends Report. Globally, nearly two-thirds of households with kids—versus 45% of those without kids—say they use nutritious beverages such as smoothies as a snack or meal, according to HealthFocus.

Little Spoon has added kids’ snack smoothies made with Greek yogurt in dessert flavors like Banana Split. Lifeway’s ProBugs Kefir is a drinkable snack formulated with active probiotic cultures. For families seeking plant-based products, Bored Cow offers animal-free milk available in vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavors made with vegan-friendly whey protein from Perfect Day.

• Coffee and Tea. Although single-serve pods dominate sales in the coffee sector, refrigerated ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee sales continue to soar, up 31.5% for the year ended May 15, 2022, per IRI. Verve Coffee Roasters introduced RTD Flash Brew Lattes made with oat milk.

Little Green Cyclo Vietnamese Coffee, Virginia Gold Caffeinated Peanut Coffee (yes, it’s made from peanuts), Rufus Teague Whiskey Maple Smoke-Roasted Coffee, and Cackalacky Bourbon Pecan Pie Coffee Beans are among the latest trendsetters.

Herbal teas have taken share from all other teas, per IRI. Tazo Tea announced some its most popular varieties are now available under the “Regenerative Organic” banner.

About the Author

A. Elizabeth Sloan, PhD, a member of IFT and contributing editor of Food Technology, is president, Sloan Trends Inc., Escondido, Calif. ([email protected])

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E. Liz Sloan