Canadean has published its latest Quarterly Beverage Tracker reports – and it contain a special focus section on soft drink trends and innovations.
The burgeoning consumer preference for healthy, functional beverages with natural flavourings made from local fruits and herbs continues to influence new product development, according to the reports.
Raspberry variants are enjoying significant success, largely thanks to the further expansion of the Keli brand.
In the flavoured water segment in Eurpoe, the category has benefited from the introduction of raspberry variants of Waldquelle (Karlovarské Mineralni Vody), Voeslauer Balance (Ottakringer) and Roemerquelle Emotion (Coca-Cola) in 2014.
Elsewhere bottlers have been employing flavour innovations to galvanise consumer interest, notably in still drinks and carbonates.
Traditional flavours such as lemon have been squeezed by a plethora of unique flavours such as herbs, tree flavours such as birch or horse chestnut, fruit mixes and many others including cactus and lychee.
This year consumers are striving for healthier beverages, with additional vitamins.
Last year saw the introduction of Vitamineral water (Olvi Group), which was highly successful, with additional flavours launching this year.
Aura Active Shake (Olvi Group), also aimed at health conscious consumers, performed successfully in 2014, with berries mix and apple/cherry variants added this year – both of which are natural flavours made using local fruit.
A natural evolution
Consumer experimentation is fairly high in iced/rtd tea drinks, with almost two-thirds of consumers saying they opt for new flavours sometimes or often.
65% of regular iced/rtd tea drinkers also say they actively use food or drinks to improve their health.
Within this category, functional options are meeting demand for added benefits through natural sources, and producers are paring back ingredients to offer purity and convenience, for example with Eistee (Alnatura), an organic lemongrass flavoured rtd tea drink sweetened with stevia and grape juice extract.
At the same time, preparation style, leaf origin, and picking season are being communicated more effectively in the rtd space, driven by migrating cultures and consumer curiosity.
Craft treatment for soft drinks
The motivation for trying new flavours for many consumers is inextricably linked with the trend towards healthier beverage choices.
Whether this mounting demand for natural ingredients will develop into a discernible craft segment for soft drinks, similar to that seen in the beer and cider categories, is debatable.
For producers to entice these floating drinkers into one overriding artisanal segment, they must strive to deliver flavours that complement any added value benefits and endure beyond the novelty stage.