As with any other kind of product, the start of a new year provides an opportunity for a new set of trends in the beverage industry. In 2024, the focus on health and wellbeing will continue to be a major driving force in the development of new products. In general, consumers are becoming more aware of the specific ingredients in the beverages they purchase and how those ingredients can improve aspects of both physical and psychological health. At the same time, global influences and the desire for new flavor profiles (and the resurgence of familiar ones) will put a spotlight on some new beverage options.
Even though there is an ongoing trend toward personalization and variety, each year a few flavors tend to stand out as especially popular. In 2024 one of the flavors expected to be featured prominently is peach. This fuzzy stone fruit has a juicy texture and mildly sweet flavor that is at once comforting and invigorating, yet it also pairs well with non-fruity flavors like cinnamon or basil. While peach will continue to be used in fruit preserves or tea blends, it is also expected to be the star of carbonated soft drinks and even savory and cocktail mixers.
In addition to peach, some other flavors that figure to be popular in 2024 are related to their potential impact on health. Orange, lemon, and other citrus flavors, for instance, have always been a favorite for many people. This year, though, their expanded use will be more about the antioxidants and other nutrients that bring a variety of health benefits. Because citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C, they are associated with attributes like improved immune system health, digestive function, and mental stimulation.
Apart from general health and wellbeing, another trend to be aware of is the rise of functional ingredients in beverages and other food products. Products in this category typically highlight one or two ingredients that are added to specifically address a particular aspect of health. One universally relevant example is aging, and a significant health concern for women as they age is menopause; some research has shown that dark berries like blackberries, blueberries, and black raspberries can reduce blood pressure and other unwelcome symptoms of menopause.
In addition to individual fruits that have known health benefits, many beverage products will focus on specific compounds that are similarly important for health. One example is products that contain probiotics, which are live bacteria that can improve the health and diversity of the beneficial bacteria that already inhabit the human digestive tract. Perhaps the best known example of a product that looks to become even more popular is kombucha. This fermented black tea drink can be mixed with a wide range of other flavors like grapefruit, coconut, and elderberry to offer a healthy and flavorful product.
The foods and beverages we choose are often prompted by emotions and what we think will make us feel or function better. But even beyond the joy or comfort from drinking a favorite beverage, there is a trend toward products and ingredients that can actually improve our mood at the biochemical level. Examples include floral, herbal, and root-based ingredients that can be mixed with seltzers or teas to offer a refreshing and uplifting experience. Additionally, mood-boosting fruits like pineapple, pomegranate, and bananas can also be expected in more beverages in 2024.
While factors like price and taste will undoubtedly always be important drivers in the beverage industry, consumers are also increasingly concerned with broader issues like climate change and sustainability. In the new year and beyond, products that are promoted for being sustainably produced or good for the environment are likely to be more popular. One of the ways food processing companies like FruitSmart are making a difference in this area is through the use of upcycling, a process that involves using the skin, pulp, and other parts of the fruit that would otherwise be discarded. Instead, we repurpose these materials into dry ingredients that can be used for other food products, pet food products, or industrial products.
In years past, sweetness and spiciness have been popular on their own from year to year, but in 2024 the two will be brought together in “sweet heat” products. A classic example of this is a spicy margarita with lime juice, tequila, and a garnish of a jalapeno pepper. This trend will continue and be expanded upon in the year ahead with exciting combinations like mango and habanero or kiwi and chili. The comforting sweetness and exhilarating spiciness combine to create a whole new experience that works in a variety of applications like cocktail mixes, mocktail mixes, and hard seltzers.
As always, the new year provides opportunities for new experiences, tastes, and trends to flourish. At FruitSmart, we are always on top of what’s new in the beverage industry and how the tastes, preferences, and concerns of consumers shape the next generation of products. If you’d like to learn more about any of our high quality, premium products, please contact us today. Our experienced and knowledgeable team is eager to help you develop the next product that will make your customers rave.