New and exciting companies are making big waves in the domestic beverage market – bringing global flavors to fresh and functional beverages.
This trend has stemmed from increasing consumer preferences for global flavors that also offer health benefits. The growth in this new market sector was especially noticeable at Natural Products Expo West 2023 where the Trackmind team had the pleasure to taste some of these new products – ranging from sparkling water with tropical ingredients such as guava and passionfruit, to a probiotic soda drawing on ancient ayurvedic remedies from India.
Global Fruit Flavors
What global flavors are consumers most excited about and why? First up on the trend list are fruits. Top fruit flavors for 2023 include tropical fruits such as dragon fruit, lychee, guava, pomegranate, watermelon, mango, and passion fruit. The consumer preference for these fruit flavors seems to be driven by the trend towards beverages that support health and wellness coupled with a desire for “delicious escapism”. According to Don Giampetro, vice president of innovation and quality at iTi Tropicals, “Exotic fruits such as coconut water, acerola, acai, guava, dragon fruit and passion fruit all contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients that support overall health and wellness.”
In addition to being functional, many of these tropical fruits (such as dragonfruit) are highly pigmented and vibrant in color. This means that beverage companies can use them to naturally color their product and draw consumers’ attention to their brightly colored beverages.
American consumers are also drawn towards beverages that combine new, global flavors with traditional classic flavors that many Americans are already familiar with. This trend of blending global flavors with domestic ones has successfully drawn in consumers that are looking to try something new but not too new. For example – Wildwonder, a probiotic sparkling water beverage brand, has flavors such as strawberry passionfruit and peach ginger that combine a familiar flavor found in American markets with a global flavor found somewhere else in the world.
Next up on the trend list? Herbs and spices – specifically ones hailing from South-eastern Asia. Ingredients such as turmeric, ginger, amalaki, ashwagandha and ceylon cinnamon have seen an immense increase in popularity over the past few years. With its high concentration of curcumin, turmeric has great anti-inflammatory properties, while its cousin ginger helps to soothe the gut and prevent indigestion. Amalaki helps to support the immune system with its high concentration of Vitamin C, while Ashwagandha helps to promote brain function and reduce stress. And consumer interest in these spices isn’t limited only to the functional benefits they offer. Consumers are drawn to the flavors of the spices as well.
So where are these spices showing up in the market? These global spices can be seen in a fast growing sector of the beverage market – functional sodas and seltzers. Carbonated drinks with digestive benefits are some of the most popular beverages on the market right now, and many of these beverages incorporate spices that soothe the gut and support the immune system, such as ginger, turmeric and amalaki.
Many of these spices are also showing up in the tea market. As tea consumption increased over the past two years, spices such as ginger and cinnamon have become prominent in new tea flavors. Refrigerated RTD teas are driving the majority of dollar and unit growth, with consumers showing their preference for cold teas that are ready for immediate consumption.
Beverage Brands Responding to these Consumer Trends
So how have businesses been capitalizing on consumer interest in global flavors and ingredients? More and more we’re seeing the arrival of beverage brands bringing global flavors to American consumers in fresh, health-conscious drinks. A few stand-out brands our team saw at Expo West 2023 who did just this include Aura Bora, Turveda and Wildwonder. Aura Bora is a sparkling water beverage made from herbs, fruits and flowers with no sugar added. Their flavors include Guava Eucalyptus and Hibiscus Passionfruit. Turveda is an Indian-owned company that created a line of probiotic sodas that combines functional ingredients traditionally found in India into a beverage to support gut health. Wildwonder is also a gut-focused beverage, inspired by the founder Rosa Li, and her Chinese grandma who “brewed tonics with a symphony of wild herbs and botanicals.” They offer beverage lines with flavors such as Mango Gold and Guava Rose.
These are just a few of several new brands in this niche part of the beverage market. If this consumer trend towards global flavors continues, we’re likely to see many more companies enter this sector of the market.