As the world grapples with a global pandemic, health and wellness is topping consumer agenda.
Granted, the wellness trend was rocketing before COVID-19, but people are now even more aware of how what they eat and drink can impact their health. For the beverage industry, this means consumers are looking for drinks that are lower in sugar, provide an immunity boost and have associated health benefits.
Smoothies undoubtedly have the edge when it comes to immunity-boosting beverages. Packed full of vitamins and minerals, consumers guzzle them in the winter to ward off colds and in the summer to provide a refreshing yet natural energy boost.
That’s why it’s a growing category; before the pandemic, the fruit and vegetable juice market had a forecast growth projection of 4.8% between 2020 and 2025.
While that growth is likely to continue, we expect this new consumer demand to drive innovation and shake up trends within the smoothie market. The traditional fruit smoothie had already started to attract criticism because of its high levels of naturally occurring sugar. Rather than flavours such as banana and strawberry, people have been turning to green juices with a vegetable base; something which is still bursting with micronutrients but lower in sugar.
Ingredients like cucumber, kale and spinach are particularly popular, gaining an almost cult-like following amongst millennials and Gen-Z. They also tap into the current fibre trend as consumers seek out products that improve gut health too.
That said, there is still a place for fruit within the market place. As the desire for functional-rich beverages climbs, we’re seeing increasing demand for antioxidant-rich fruits such as blueberry. Watermelon is also a sought-after summer flavour, thanks to its refreshing and hydrating properties.
As well as health, taste remains just as important to consumers and a smoothie, which contains a blend of both fruit and vegetables is the best way to achieve that. The right blend will also tap into the new demand for experiential beverages. After spending months living under restrictions of some kind or another, this summer consumers want novel flavour combinations that are new and exciting.
Here at Treatt, kiwi and spinach – which works fantastically well in a smoothie – has proved very popular. We’re also seeing the use of pepper in beverages rocket thanks to its versatility. From a mild bell pepper to spicier varieties such as jalapeños or chipotle, peppers can provide a range of colours and heat levels to give smoothies an exciting twist not experienced before.
However, we also expect to see time-tested ingredients such as ginger playing an important part. Renowned for its ability to aid a range of health ailments, from relieving nausea, curing a cold or soothing an upset digestive system, it is also already popular in tea and is growing in the cold-pressed market. With that in mind, a shot of ginger in a smoothie is likely to be well received by consumers.
Outside of smoothies, flavours such as mango, peach, lemon and matcha are all expected to gain popularity in the energy drinks market. As a result, there could very well be the potential for those flavours to migrate across to smoothies and juices, providing consumers with what they perceive to be a natural energy boost.
Smoothies that can offer health and wellness claims will continue to gain popularity amongst consumers, particularly those made with natural and superfood ingredients, which go hand-in-hand with perceived health benefits. In addition to physical health, mental wellbeing is also starting to play a much bigger role in driving consumer demand and we expect functional ingredients which can help to improve mood and boost brain health will all start to gain traction too.
About the author
Julie Barnes – Citrus, Fruit and Vegetable Category Manager at Treatt
A leading ingredients manufacturer and solutions provider to the global flavour, fragrance and consumer goods markets. Julie works across the company’s range of fruit and vegetable extracts.