One of the expected food trends for next year is familiar favorites with a twist, according to Technomic. I reached out to Givaudan product manager Kim Carson to learn her thoughts on what trends are expected for the beverage industry and how foodservice operators can spot them.
What can seem exotic on menus has become increasingly more comfortable. What might be on the horizon for beverages?
Consumers are drawn to familiarity, so often times, what draws consumers to try a new product is the pairing of a familiar favorite with another known flavor or a more unique or exotic flavor. A perfect example of this trend in action is the number of new types of lemonades on menus this year. We have seen a wide array of lemonade introductions including fresh-squeezed lemonade, strawberry lemonade and even a huckleberry lemonade. We anticipate this trend to continue into 2012, where lemonade and lemonade flavor pairings will be found in many foodservice establishments. Another area that will experience growth is with coffee and teas, both cold and hot. Expect to see a wider range of customization options through different varieties of coffee and tea, as well as different flavor options for consumers to customize their beverage just the way they want it.
What are some of the new ingredients and new technologies that beverage companies are working with?
The most significant innovation for beverages in the foodservice area appears to be this trend of consumer customization. Consumers want to feel as if they have created a beverage specific for their tastes and needs. In order to meet this demand we have seen a shift in the way beverages are being delivered to consumers. A great example of this trend is the recent popularity of the K Cup for coffee and tea that has resonated with consumers. This idea has become extremely popular in foodservice and is now increasing in popularity with the availability for consumers to purchase coffee and tea units for in-home-use as well. Consumers are excited about this trend because it offers them a multitude of choices: specific varietals or brands of coffee and tea, and many different flavor choices. It really allows consumers to customize their drink and make a choice in the beverage they plan to consume. Expect to see this trend increase in popularity in other beverage categories such as carbonated soft drinks or water.
What is the best way for foodservice operators to stay on top of flavor trends in the beverage industry?
There are a variety of ways that foodservice operators can stay on top of beverage trends. Often we see trends developing on the East Coast or West Coast, and then begin to move into the Midwest. These trends can often be identified through visiting trendy bars and restaurants and taste-testing menus. Taking a “beverage tour” in cities like New York, Los Angeles or Seattle can provide inspirational trends for foodservice operators, for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. There are other ways to identify trends that are dependent on the type of foodservice operator. For example, a QSR might look at trends from fast casual, and fast casual might look at trends happening in fine-dining establishments. Usually a trend pattern can be identified by researching menus outside of a specific restaurant category. And last but certainly not least … social drivers, technology, the economy, environment and politics all affect consumer behavior and the purchase and consumption of food and beverage products.
Image credit: iStockphoto
What beverage trends will you keep an eye on in 2012?