One such product is the Hopper, a natural brewed fruit drink currently being trialled by UK-based manufacturer the Juice Brewery, at smaller retail venues in the country.
The company hopes the drink, which combines various extracted fruit flavours with hops and malt, can fill a growing niche for ‘sophisticated’ beverage alternatives to alcohol, juices and carbonated brands in the year ahead.
Tim Dewey, chief executive officer of the Juice Brewery, told BeverageDaily.com that with a longer-term eye on the summer and Christmas periods in 2009, the company believed it was plugging a genuine gap in the beverage market.
“From my involvement there seems to be nothing sitting between existing soft drinks and alcohol products,” stated Dewey, who has previously worked with leading beverage makers such as Diageo on product innovation.
He added that the Hopper was formulated, packaged and promoted to consumers who may want the occasional soft drink as opposed to wine and beer without feeling ‘hard done-by’ in terms of selection.
“When it comes to the term adult soft drink, taste is a priority,” claimed Dewey.
As a global trend, the soft drinks market has undergone increasing ‘segmentation’ as the industry diversifies to meet more specific tastes, says the market analyst Zenith International.
While still very much an emerging area, an analyst for Zenith stated that there had been a clear development in recent years to differentiate certain products away from the traditional view of soft drinks as an option for children.
“Adult targeted drinks have been a growing sector, having witnessed new product launches across all categories including cordials, presses, sparkling fruit drinks, smoothies, [ready-to-drink teas and coffees] and functional drinks [for] beauty and weight management,” stated the analyst.
“Adult drinks usually have a premium price positioning and are available in more ‘sophisticated’ flavours such as pomegranate, elderflower, acai, hibiscus and goji.”
In looking ahead at the potential for such a burgeoning market, Zenith said that there was uncertainty over how the current economic global downturn might affect adult consumers already looking to forgo more premium products to focus on value goods.
In the second part of this article published tomorrow, BeverageDaily.com looks at the challenges behind developing adult soft drinks and other types of products being pushed on to the market in the scramble for so-called soft drink sophistication.