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From cannabis to carbs - Ten innovation trends for 2019 - focus

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Earlier this month, GlobalData presented on what it believes will be the 'Ten Innovation Trends to Watch in 2019'. Here, just-drinks outlines the trends to watch for the drinks industry.

Plant-based drinks, such as Coca-Colas AdeZ, are a top trend for 2019, according to the report

Plant-based drinks, such as Coca-Cola's AdeZ, are a top trend for 2019, according to the report

  • Carb crash

GlobalData's presentation suggests that consumer sentiment towards carbohydrates is becoming more negative. In the drinks industry, this is evidenced by the rise of low-carb beers, especially in the US. In its last results announcement, Constellation Brands hailed the success of low-carb Corona Premier, while MillerCoors last month lined up a low-carb, low-calorie beer under its Saint Archer brand.

At the same time, the presentation suggests that consumers are changing their minds about fat, which is seen now as 'satiety-enhancing'. If consumers start to eat more fat, what they drink alongside their food may also change.

  • Better-for-you

Research suggests that alcoholic drinks will continue to incorporate ingredients that are perceived to be 'better for you', including fruit juice, water and tea. "Consumers are gravitating towards lighter, less caloric non-alcoholic drinks," GlobalData says. Launches include Absolut Juice Edition, which includes real fruit juice and a lower abv, as well as spiked 'seltzers'. This month, MillerCoors changed the packaging for its Henry's Hard Sparkling Water to emphasise the brand's 'zero sugar' credentials.

Although GlobalData's findings show Millennials are leading the charge with this trend, Gen X and Boomers are paying attention, too. 

  • 360-degree wellness

Mindful consumption spans the entire FMCG industry, with consumers "connecting the dots between the products they purchase and use, and personal wellness", GlobalData says.

Kombucha is the big winner, here, with its probiotic qualities. Several major players have moved into this space, with PepsiCo's KeVita and Molson Coors' Clearly among the big kombucha brands.

  • Transparency

Total transparency is being fueled by the ease by which information can be accessed and where consumer demand for full-disclosure is "becoming the norm", according to GlobalData. For drinks companies, smart packaging could hold the key. The presentation highlights Tetra Pak's QR code-enabled packs.

Elsewhere, a read-across to the food industry suggests the use of blockchain technology could greatly enhance traceability and safety. Last year, European dairy business Arla Foods claimed to be the first in its field to use blockchain technology to provide information on its supply chain. 

  • Cannabis

Two distinct sides of cannabis are starting to emerge in the drinks industry – one in health & wellness, the other in THC-enhanced psychoactive products.

Despite billions of dollars of investment, though, GlobalData warns that current consumer perceptions towards the health properties of cannabis still "skew negative". 

  • Inclusivity

"Nobody wants to be left out," the presentation says. "Inclusive FMCG innovation celebrates diversity with products that better meet individual needs."

GlobalData gives the example of Diageo's Johnnie Walker Jane Walker blended Scotch. The version, a limited edition Johnnie Walker Black Label, was first launched to coincide with Women's History Month and International Women's Day, last March. Earlier this year, Diageo used Jane Walker, and its Striding Woman image, to support a women's march in Washington DC.

  • Bans

Although the UK Government did not implement an out-and-out ban on selling energy drinks to under 16s, several supermarkets int he country decided to make the move anyway, according to GlobalData. Elsewhere, plastic packaging is increasingly scrutinised while so-called 'sugar taxes' continue to be implemented around the world.

  • Plant power

"Companies are finding new and unusual ways to incorporate plant-based ingredients into products, jumping on the plant-based bandwagon," the presentation says.

Last year, Coca-Cola European Partners relaunched AdeZ - known as AdeS in other markets - in the UK. The brand describes itself as a "plant-based" product and comes in several flavours. Over at PepsiCo, the company has just rolled out a plant-based drink under its Quaker brand to the US market. The initial line-up comprises three flavours: Original, Original Unsweetened and Vanilla.

  • Digitally informed consumption

From apps to smart speakers, consumers are using technology to help guide consumption decisions, according to GlobalData. Drinks companies already making the most of the movement include Diageo with its voice-activated whisky tasting, powered by Amazon Alexa. The 'Talisker Tasting Experience' is designed to make "the heritage of Scotch more accessible to more people", the company said at the time of the launch.

Moet Hennessy has launched a similar initiative for its Champagne portfolio in the US, as the group looks to give consumers the opportunity to learn about Champagne in their own homes. 

  • Ordinary to extraordinary

The final trend in the presentation suggests FMCG companies are adding and promoting additional product benefits, taking ordinary products into the realms of "extraordinary". Taking bottle water as an example, GlobalData outlines the raft of ways companies are adding value. From caffeine-infused water to protein water and fruit-infused sparkling water, innovations continue apace.

In the UK, functional drinks company Protein Water Co last year lined up a new flavour under its 'Skin Maintenance' range. Blackberry & Cherry Skin is part of a line of "naturally protein-rich collagen water, designed to support healthy hair, skin, nails, joints as well as improve sleep and metabolism".


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