Consumers desire ‘healthy flavours’ and experience from beverages

Consumers may be actively purchasing healthier-for-you beverages while dining out or on-the-go, but they are not abandoning their craving for novelty or experience with beverages. 

The latest research into foodservice beverages in Europe from taste and nutrition company, Kerry shows that consumers are seeking flavours that they associate with health and nutrition benefits such as strawberry, lemon and mango, but they also want excitement and a sensory experience through newer formats like frappuccinos and bubble teas. 

The new report, Art of Taste and Nutrition 2022, focused on nearly 400 summer-launched limited time offerings (LTOs) across 12 regions in Europe (Belgium, Denmark, Eastern Europe, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom), and categorises the top beverage platforms and flavours, while examining future trends and influences across the world. Per Kerry’s research, the top three LTO trends are: 

  • Travel through taste: Many outlets this year launched beverages with flavours such as mango, pineapple, passion fruit and coconut to create a tropical island experience for the senses. 
  • Natural refreshment: Consumers crave cool, refreshing beverages, with many now focusing on flavours they consider natural and local to the different European regions such as lemon and strawberry. 
  • Health and nutrition focus: Consumers are looking to foodservice outlets for healthier options. Nutrition-focused LTO ranges need to deliver not only great taste but also health benefits through fortification and healthy halo ingredients. 

Commenting on the new report, Daniel Sjogren, vp and general manager for foodservice in Kerry Europe, said, “With markets in Europe fully re-opened this summer, foodservice operators find themselves once again competing for consumers attention. LTOs have come back with a vengeance and are more popular than ever. We have found that consumers are looking for exciting sensory experiences, with the rise of bubble tea and drinks that are a visual experience and shareable on social media.” 

He noted that fruit flavours continue to be the core flavour offering for summer LTOs across Europe but with two clear distinctions. “Firstly, exotic flavours have become more prominent in consumers’ minds as they remind themselves of their favourite holiday destinations. However, consumers are also becoming more conscious of their own health and are seeking out flavours aligned to their personal nutrition needs.” 

The top five summer LTO flavours (in the 12 European regions) according to Kerry’s analysis are: lemon, chocolate, strawberry, mango and vanilla, respectively. 

The research found that 99% of consumers preferred iced beverages versus 1% for hot beverages. This is up 10% from 2021, which shows the growing popularity of iced drinks in Europe. 

According to Kerry, the top beverage formats for summer LTOs are: frappuccino (16%), lemonade (11%), iced tea (11%), smoothie (10%) and iced latte (9%), of which 88% were on menus in cafés or coffee shops (followed by 7% in quick service restaurants, 4% in bakeries and 1% in ice cream parlours). 

Looking towards 2023, Kerry reports that sustainable nutrition will continue to gain traction with consumers more concerned with both their physical and mental health post-pandemic and the health of the planet (as was discussed in last week’s blog, Global consumer concerns over climate change and food shortages escalate). Consumers are also more interested in unique menu items, with foodservice operators now having to consider not only taste but look, texture and smell to create a complete sensorial experience. 

“Our prediction for the future is that sustainability along with nutrition will continue to become more important as consumers look for great tasting beverages that are better for them and better for the planet,” said Sjogren. “However, many operators find it challenging to deliver on these evolved trends while also being able to communicate them to their consumers in a meaningful way. 

With summer drawing to a close and autumn approaching in many regions, I’m curious to see what will be the popular LTOs for the fall, aside from the ubiquitous ‘PSL’ (pumpkin spice latte), of course. 

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