Breakout Trends for the Drinks Industry in 2016

With coconut and birch water leading the 2015 market, Sara Grady, Consumer Insight Analyst at Canadean highlights the breakout trends set to dominate the drinks market in 2016.


It has been said that health is the new status symbol; this is no less true in the beverage market where the idea of heightened wellness permeates numerous market trends within many disparate categories. It is even reaching previously marginalised categories like FABs, where there has been a marked shift away from the historically hyper-sweet taste profile and high-sugar recipes. As a result of this, functionality is also becoming the norm in some categories, as has been seen with the juicing trend, and the recent interest in "teatoxes."

Natural, craft and hyper-specific origin drinks trends

The natural trend is also a key factor in the beverage market, with consumers being more motivated to buy food and drinks products that contain natural ingredients or are from natural sources. General scepticism, combined with a greater understanding of what goes into food and drinks, means that consumers are expecting a lot more from their drinks choices. This trend particularly influences soft drinks and functional health drinks. In the latter, consumers are searching for natural ways to boost their health, and a beverage is a highly convenient way to do so.

"The craft trend is very strong in the mainstream drinks market as it allows brand to tap into the appeal of the idea of small-scale, artisan production."

Similarly the craft trend is very strong in the mainstream drinks market as it allows brand to tap into the appeal of the idea of small-scale, artisan production that is synonymous with high levels of care and expertise. While this has been seen in the alcoholic drinks market, it is expected that 2016 will see craft sodas, which have been gaining ground slowly over the past year, move fully into the mass market. Benefiting from the same quality cues as craft beer and spirits, craft sodas also support the growing interest in soft drinks "adultification" - that is the premiumisation of non-alcoholic drinks though more adult flavours and preparations

Historically more prominent in the alcoholic and hot drinks markets, hyper-specific origins are now gaining a presene in mainstream beverage packaging. Greater connectivity and consumer curiosity has meant that product provenance has never been so traceable, and brands are leveraging this to encourage consumers to trade up in their purchase choices.

Savoury beverages and the 'healthful' drinks trend

Looking forward, there will be greater interest in savoury beverages; driven both by the increased consumer scepticism surrounding artificial sweeteners, and the desire to experiment with more adult, unsweetened flavours. Sophisticated carbonated options are already seeing success in the US market, and this can be expected to move across the globe, with the correct branding approach.

The healthful movement is also set to branch into new sectors; permissible indulgences will gain mass market visibility in the hot drinks market, particularly as mainstream consumers become more trusting of the "superfood" concept. This greater interest means that traditional herbal hot drinks will be paired with indulgent, yet healthful, flavours to create a more engaging proposition. Carob will become a viable alternative to hot chocolate, and chicory and maca will gain further presence.

Beyond this, there are many promising product niches; from targeted nutrition for mums-to-be, to beauty beverages that claim to improve the drinker's appearance, and savoury sodas that align with the shift away from sugar.

Cascara and flavoured alcholic beverages

A couple of products to watch over the coming year are cascara, a caffeinated tea made from the usually-discarded coffee cherry fruit; nitro cold brew coffee, which gaining huge ground in the on-premise in artisan coffee shops and involves passing the coffee through a nitrogenated tap to create a creamy, Guinness-like texture.

Flavoured Alcoholic Beverages are set to see a revitalisation as innovation becomes focussed around more refreshing, unsweetened, and adult flavours, and coconut kefir taps into two trends that have seen huge success in past years; coconut and fermented beverages. The reported dual health benefits of both trends suggest that this amalgamation will see a strong response as the first packaged options reach the market.