As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to recede in our collective rearview mirror, food and beverage trends in 2023 are reflecting a renewed interest in travel, adventure, and new combinations of color and flavor. Rather than the neon yellows, blues, and greens of years past, consumers now seem more interested in natural colors and flavorings. Authenticity and functionality are also central in this new direction for beverages; people want healthy, natural, and fortified drinks that connect them to other cultures and traditions around the world. Here are some of the most exciting trends to look for in 2023.
Due in part to changes in packaging and the shift away from clear plastics, consumers will see fewer wild new colors as they shop for beverages this year. Lavender, for instance, provides an opportunity to offer a subdued color and botanical flavor that can be blended with fruits like lemon and apple. Many beverage producers are shifting to aluminum cans because they are more likely to be recycled than plastics, and the opaque nature of cans makes them suited to different marketing messages. This also makes the color of the beverage less of a factor in whether or not a consumer will make a purchase. Moreover, the trend toward healthy and natural ingredients has made many people wary of synthetic food dyes.
Health foods have been popular for many years, but there is an ongoing rise in concern about the role of added sugars in the development of obesity and obesity-related diseases like type 2 diabetes. As a result, beverage makers continue to offer more new options with zero sugar or lower amounts of sugar. This has prompted the use of alternative sweeteners like stevia, a sugar substitute that is derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. More and more products are then able to be marketed as “zero calories” for an increasingly calorie-conscious culture.
While the desire for healthier, low or no-sugar options has been growing for years, this year is likely to see an additional interest in beverages that also provide health benefits. One specific area of health that will likely be a focal point is immune system health. Products with tangerine and mango juices, for example, are rich in vitamin C, a compound that has long been associated with improved immune function. 2023 will continue to see the choice of more healthful ingredients that have been fortified with other vitamins and minerals known to be beneficial for human health.
The connection between citrus and a healthy immune system is just one part of the steady rise in citrus flavors over the years. Lemon, orange, lime, and grapefruit are go-to choices for all sorts of new carbonated beverages, ready-to-drink cocktails, and juices. In addition to any of these flavors standing alone, there is a noted uptick in citrus being paired with berries, botanicals, and floral flavors. The vibrant flavors and colors of citrus make it a trend that is both timeless and constantly new and able to be reinvented.
Another growing trend that will continue to rise in popularity this year is fermented beverages like craft ciders. Hard cider has been around for decades, but recently it has become repositioned as a gluten-free alternative to beer or wine that also has lower alcohol content. Yet fermentation has also expanded to non-alcoholic options like kefir and kombucha. In addition to opening up new avenues of flavor, some fermented beverages may also have probiotic properties; probiotics are thought to improve digestion and other aspects of health by having a beneficial impact on the gut microbiome.
Over the past couple of years, hard seltzers like White Claw became incredibly popular and were referenced regularly on social media. In the wake of that success, beverage producers are leaning into ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails that combine well-known liquors with a wide variety of mixers. Many of these options utilize fruit juices and concentrates that range from familiar flavors like strawberry and lemon to more exotic and tropical fruits like guava and mango. Many industry experts even expect such pre-mixed cocktails to become a dominant force in the industry over the next decade.
Perhaps partly in response to the recent global pandemic and the apparent effects of climate change, the greater focus on health and wellbeing doesn’t only include individual humans. Consumers have also become increasingly interested in how their purchases may affect their communities and the planet at large. More than ever, ingredients derived from natural products are a major selling point for drinks of all kinds. Ingredients that are sourced from natural fruits, vegetables, and botanicals will continue to be featured.
One of the ways this new focus on the greater good is being explored is in the area of food waste. In an effort to reduce food waste and the potential negative impact on the environment is the concept of upcycling. While recycling tends to be about repurposing food packing, upcycling looks at repurposing parts of food that would traditionally be discarded. At FruitSmart, for example, we take the remaining apple pulp and seeds from juice operations and repurpose it as a healthy and flavorful dry ingredient.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that up to 40% of the country’s food supply goes to waste. But even beyond the potential benefit for the climate, reducing this waste has the potential to positively impact beverage producers’ bottom lines as Americans are becoming more eco-conscious about their purchases. More and more products will feature upcycled ingredients and more ecologically friendly packaging in 2023 and beyond.
The explosion of social media over the last decade or so has shown that consumers often make product purchase decisions based in part on how they want to be perceived. What they drink may say something about their personality, their worldview, their interests, or the causes they believe in. In 2023, we will continue to see more products that attempt to make bold statements in flavor, color, packaging, and environmental impact as consumers make choices about how they want to be perceived by their friends and family.
2023 looks to be another promising year for the beverage industry, and at FruitSmart we’re excited to partner with you. We are passionate about providing high quality and delicious juices, concentrates, and essences so we can deliver the best product to your customers. Our state-of-the-art production process takes only the best raw produce and transforms them into ready-to-use ingredients for a wide variety of applications. To learn more about working with FruitSmart, please contact us today.