Veggie cocktails and cheese tea: An early look at 2020 beverage trends

By Beth Newhart

- Last updated on GMT

US consumers have been quick to adopt new trends, with a growing focus on health and wellness. Pic: Getty/master1305
US consumers have been quick to adopt new trends, with a growing focus on health and wellness. Pic: Getty/master1305

Related tags trendspotting Tea Cocktails Pea protein smoothies flavor trends

The first predictions are in for what’s to come in US beverage next year. A continued emphasis on health, wellness and sustainability will drive innovations.

Because consumers want more consistent healthy options and unique flavors from their beverages, they are guiding menus toward new sustainably grown and sourced ingredients. This will translate into waste reduction and creative use of new ingredients in both food and drink.

Market insight firm Technomic released its thoughts on seven foodservice food and beverage trends to watch in 2020. US consumers are operating in a heightened sense of social responsibility led by evolving life stages, Technomic said, ultimately influencing all categories of CPG brands.

“As global economic factors, political implications and labor concerns gain steam, consumer behaviors are impacted and their sensibilities are more attuned to the value equation for dining occasions. And that’s linked directly to their choices,”​ Technomic said.

Colorful waste reduction

Butterfly pea flower tea
Butterfly pea flower tea

Technomic is seeing more use of previously overlooked parts of familiar plants, like beet greens, sweet potato leaves and avocado blossom. Creative use of these plant parts will get attention as a form of waste reduction.

For example, seaweed is likely to move beyond the snacking category and show up in drinks and desserts. Plant-based milks will also expand past nuts and seeds to introduce oat, fruit and vegetable options.

Also made popular by social media, colorful food and drinks will continue to grow next year. Yellow turmeric and beetroot lattes will have competition from leaf vegetables, like the use of sea greens, peas and absinthe in cocktails.

Spirulina and butterfly pea will show up in blue hues, and purple variations of common vegetables and herbs like corn, broccoli, kale, snap peas, basil and potatoes will find new uses.

Fast fads and targeted marketing

US consumers have been quick to adopt new trends recently, easily influenced by strategic social media marketing. Technomic expects this to come to a head next year and has dubbed 2020 ‘the year of the fad.’

Brands will jump onto new fads instead of waiting for established trends, launching products that are either expensive, laborious to produce or hard to acquire from suppliers. Pushing them in a limited-time-offer setting can cause quick demand and social media buzz among consumers.

Thai cheese tea
Thai cheese tea

Asian cheese tea, huitlacoche, edible insects and tonka beans are all predicted to gain momentum next year, but may not sustain long-term.

In an effort to be more sustainable and eco-friendly, brands will employ things like reusable cup programs, strawless lids and portion-controlling dispensers to limit overuse. They will also increasingly target consumers based on age, with distinct voices between Gen Z, millennials, Gen X and baby boomers.

And with the threat of a potential recession looming for the US in 2020 or 2021, another challenge for food and beverage brands will be driving in-store traffic with sales or rewards programs that require frequent visitation.

Plant love backed by health claims

Eat Cleaner, a healthy lifestyle and e-commerce site, also released its eighth annual trend report of better-for-you 2020 predictions. The site is helmed by author, healthy eating guru and social media influencer Mareya Ibrahim.

She advises consumers to be skeptical of any plant-based claims that have become so common on food and beverage labels and to get comfortable reading ingredients lists.

“Question the source of soy, understand the language of labelese – because even if it’s natural or organic, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you – and ask ‘where’s the health’ before you bite,”​ Ibrahim said.

purp sweet pot

Among Ibrahim’s trend projections are an increased use of CBD in edible products, likely to grow exponentially in the next few years. Manuka honey, an anti-inflammatory from New Zealand, is also hot as a home remedy.

The thick alternative to maple syrup is trending on social media as an addition to drinks, a food-based supplement or juice bar add-on. Though more expensive and rare to find, its anti-cancer associations make it an ingredient to watch.

Ibrahim also sees a bright future for peas, which are good sources of phytonutrients, protein, and omega 3s. It has potential to be a major allergen-free, plant-based protein for use in smoothies, plant meats, gravy, and waffles.

Like Technomic, Ibrahim hails purple yams and sweet potatoes for their anthocyanins, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties with a path to smoothies, soft-serve, baked goods, mashed potatoes and snacks. She sees 2020 as a time for “a whole lot of plant-love, served up in a health-conscious way.”

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