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Grapefruit, habanero, pumpkin, chocolate: Mintel sees explosion in US flavored beer innovations

By Rachel Arthur+

18-Mar-2016
Last updated on 18-Mar-2016 at 15:07 GMT2016-03-18T15:07:52Z

Fancy flavors and interesting innovation: Flavored beer is on the rise. Pic: iStock/bhofack2
Fancy flavors and interesting innovation: Flavored beer is on the rise. Pic: iStock/bhofack2

The proportion of new flavored beer product launches has grown from 15% of total US beer launches in 2010, to 27% of launches in 2015, according to data from Mintel. 

This represents an increase of 80% over the five year period, with flavors ranging from grapefruit to habanero.

Such innovation in flavors could help keep drinkers interested in beer, says Mintel, against a backdrop of overall declining beer volumes in the US.

Not like flavored vodka…

Consumers are increasingly attracted to flavored beer, with 20% of beer drinkers consuming beverages from the category last year, says Mintel.

In fact, 57% of those beer drinkers who increased their consumption last year credited this to the wider availability of flavors.

In particular, young women are being drawn to flavored varieties, with popularity peaking among women in the 22-34 year old category.

So what flavors are attracting consumers?

Fruit flavored beers are very popular, with 58% of US drinkers saying they are interested in the category. This is followed by spicy flavors, which attract the attention of 45%, and tart/sour flavors (also 45%).

Beer blended with juice, tea and soft drinks also shows interesting potential, with 49% interested in the category.

Vodka has notably seen a trend in flavored varieties, but the flavors chosen by beer drinkers are different, said Beth Bloom, food and drink analyst, Mintel.

Flavored beer launches are exploring more adult formulations and steering clear of gimmicks such as whipped cream, coconut cream pie, and Dreamsicle varieties,” she said.

“Leading flavors among beer product launches include pumpkin, spicy, coffee and chocolate, while newer products, including hard or alcoholic sodas, have become more widely available."

Drawing on the popularity of fruit flavors, the US cider sector has seen volume sales increase fivefold between 2010 and 2015, reaching around 31m cases.

Millennials are particularly attracted to cider, with 23% saying they enjoy the beverage.

Beer: the most popular drink

Mintel values sales in the beer category at around $102.1bn in 2015, with dollar sales estimated to have grown 4% in the year. In terms of volume, however, the decline continues: down 2% in the period 2010-2015.

But beer is still the most popular alcoholic drink in the US: around 24% of adults say it is the drink they chose most often, considerably higher than wine (16%).

However, 25% of beer drinkers are drinking less beer in 2015 compared to the previous year. Around half of these are drinking less beer because they are turning to other types of alcohol.

Craft continues to be a high point for the beer category, and craft’s share of the overall market nearly doubled between 2010 and 2015, from 5.2% to 10.2%. Around 30% of beer drinkers consume craft-style beer (national brands in the craft style) while 23% drink ‘true-craft’ beer (produced by small, local breweries).

Along with craft, another key trend is premiumization. Higher price points across these categories contribute to dollar sales increases.

“Innovation and a wider variety of beer options - including styles, flavors and packaging formats - could help to stave off stagnation and retain the patronage of beer drinkers,” said Bloom. 

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