The US beverage industry must accept seven key changes in the near future, including a slump in traditional soda sales and touch sensitive labeling, according to a white paper penned by five analysts on behalf of the forthcoming Healthy Beverage Expo 2013.
Citing a January 2013 Wall Street Journal article pondering the possible “end of the soft drink era”, Brian Keating, Phil Lempert, Rob McCaleb, Ian McLean and James Tonkin wrote in ‘7 Key Changes the Beverage Industry Must Accept’ that they did “not believe soda will be forgotten this year”.
[But] it is obvious that consumers are trending towards healthier beverage options,” they added.
The analysts identified seven changes they said the beverage industry must accept; we will outline three in this article, and rest in a later BeverageDaily.com article.
1. Healthy Please!
Many of the 76m baby boomers in the US – many users of unhealthy products in the past – were seeking ways to increase their vitality and avoid chronic health issues, the analysts wrote.
Coupling the ‘boomers’ with 51m millennials, who grew up in a “scary, poisonous, deceitful world where no product can be trusted”, branding expert Ian McLean said there was now a major market for alternative beverage options.
According to the white paper: “With the co-operation of both the manufacturer and consumer, the healthy beverage market, spearheaded by the boomers and young adult demographics, is no longer complacent in antiquated practices.”
2. Touch sensitive labeling
‘Supermarket guru’ Phil Lempert predicts in the white paper that, by 2015, packaging will become touch sensitive to reveal additional information on demand.
Distracting gimmicks and frills meant that labels were now invisible for shoppers, Lempert said, while stressing his belief that simplicity was the key antidote to this approach.
Rather than trying to glamorize products, manufacturers needed to emphasize their “simple facts”, Lempert added.
“By 2015, packaging will become touch sensitive…with a simple touch on the product’s label, an ingredient or health claim with full description will pop up on your mobile device,” Lempert said.
Brian Keating from Sage Group suggested that manufacturers provide more information on country-of-origin labeling for every ingredient, more consistent use of analytical laboratories to create nutrition facts panels, and a greater focus on accuracy specific to caffeine levels.
Keating said the evolution of the beverage market would also spell an end to the “vague and sometimes unethical days” of ‘we donate a percentage of profits’ label statements.
“Consumers, especially millennials, want to know how much and where the money landed. Content precision on labels is a must,” he added.
3. Not so sweet slide for Coca-Cola?
Lempert insisted in the report that US consumers would stop buying Coca-Cola and other soft drinks brands due to changing attitudes towards ingredient quality, and look to more naturally occurring colors and flavors from plants instead.
He predicted that, in 2013, Americans will “morph their tastebuds into craving less sweet beverages” with sugar content in drinks falling to around a third of current volumes.
The rise of stevia and monkfruit as sweeteners indicated their power as natural ingredients, McCaleb said, despite early initial opposition “led by sweetener interests and patented non-nutritive sweetener companies [big food] fought along with the FDA for years against competition by stevia”.
“[But] ultimately, Cargill, Coca-Cola and Pepsi surrendered to a battle they could not fight”, McCaleb added.
However, despite Lempert’s bold proclamations, PepsiCo promised on February 14 that it is exploring new natural sweeteners and flavorings to help kick-start the cola market.