The beverage industry is an ever-evolving landscape that changes along with various cultural forces. But even in the midst of all these changes, there is one category of ingredients that consumers never tire of: fruit. Indeed, beverage manufacturers are always looking at new combinations of fruit that provide different levels of sweetness, tartness, or refreshing effervescence. From energy drinks and sports drinks to flavored water and kombucha, fruit flavors and fruit juice continue to play a major role in the latest beverage trends. Here are some of those trending beverage types and how fruit is being used in new ways.
Current Fruity Beverage Trends
It’s no surprise that consumer tastes and interests change from time to time, especially given the powerful influence of numerous social media platforms. The overall trends in flavors and qualities Americans demand are often shaped by the spotlight that various influencers shine on new products. These days, that typically means beverages that are healthier, more colorful, fruitier, or produced in a more sustainable way. Below are some of the latest popular beverage trends that really make fruit the star:
- Healthy and nutritious: In recent years, more and more consumers have become health conscious, and this has made them much more aware of what they’re eating and drinking and what those products are made from. To meet this demand, beverage companies have started using more natural ingredients as well as adding vitamins, minerals, and compounds with antioxidant properties. These consumers want beverage options that align well with the rest of their food and lifestyle choices, and the addition of fruits like blueberries or strawberries is often the best way to offer great flavor at the same time as nutritional value.
- Functional: A closely related trend is the growing interest in functional beverages; these drinks are products that are designed to provide health benefits beyond their nutrient profile. Functional drinks are similar to fortified drinks, but they are unique in that they usually have a specific health benefit in mind. Sports drinks and energy drinks, for instance, have components that are formulated to stimulate the body or improve athletic performance. Also, many products incorporate fruit juices like orange and mango because they are high in vitamin C and other nutrients that are known to boost immune system health.
- Plant-based: In both the United States and elsewhere around the world, there has been a growing interest in plant-based food and drink products. Much of the reason for this is the perception of health associated with a plant-based diet, and that is largely due to the many nutrients contained in fruits and vegetables. In fact, many plant-based beverages feature a combination of fruits and vegetables that pair well in terms of flavor and texture. Popular brands like Naked Juice, for instance, have long matched up fruits like apples and kiwifruit with veggies like spinach and broccoli.
- Infused water: While it may not seem like a “beverage,” another growing trend involves water that has been infused with different flavors. In most cases this means allowing natural fruit flavors to become incorporated into the water, but it can also involve herbs or vegetables. Citrus flavors like lemon and lime are classics, though almost any combination of fruits can work.
- Mocktails: Mocktails are essentially non-alcoholic versions of well-known alcoholic mixed drinks. Virtually any cocktail you can think of can be made into a non-alcoholic version, though some of the classics are mojitos, mimosas, mai tais, and pina colada. Mocktails are a great way to enjoy your favorite mixed drink even if alcohol isn’t available or isn’t desired.
- Cold brew: Cold brew coffee is a popular drink that is made by steeping ground coffee in cold (or room temperature) water for many hours. Even though coffee hasn’t traditionally been paired with fruit, an emerging trend is to add fruit ingredients to the cold brew process. A wide variety of fruits, herbs, and floral flavors can go well with cold brew coffee, but some of the more popular fruits to add are strawberries, peaches, lychee, and melon.
- Bubble tea: Bubble tea (also known as boba tea) is an increasingly popular beverage that originated in Taiwan. The original style of bubble tea uses brewed tea and tapioca pearls, but more recent renditions swap out the tapioca for fruit flavors that can be similarly made into floating “bubbles.” The fruit flavors that seem to work best are tropical fruits like mango, passion fruit, and pineapple.
- Fermented: The rising awareness of how the various foods we eat can affect health has also helped lead to more interest in fermented beverages. Fermentation is a natural metabolic process that primarily involves the conversion of carbohydrates into simpler compounds through the action of microorganisms. When applied to a tea-based drink like kombucha, the resulting probiotics can potentially improve several aspects of health. As kombucha has become more popular, fruits like cherries, grapes, and raspberries have been incorporated to add flavor and valuable nutrients.
- Sustainability: Just as consumers are more aware of and more interested in what’s good for their health, they’re also more likely to be concerned with products being made in a sustainable way. One of the ways this has been realized recently is through the concept of fruit upcycling; this is where the parts of fruits that would normally be thrown out are instead repurposed for a new product. One example of this is the use of citrus peel in citrus-flavored drinks like lemon, lime, orange, and tangerine; the peel contains a number of valuable nutrients that would otherwise go to waste.
Contact FruitSmart for Premium Fruit Ingredients
The beverage industry will never run out of uses for the many delicious fruits that are grown all over the world. Each year, new trends emerge, but the fact remains that beverage manufacturers will keep coming back to fruit flavors. FruitSmart is a premium provider of high quality fruit ingredients, and we are passionate about working with our partners to come up with new recipes that can deliver excellent taste and all the health benefits that come with using fruit. If you’d like to learn more about partnering with FruitSmart, please contact us today.