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Global Consumers’ Demands For Healthier Beverages are Accelerating

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Global Consumers’ Demands For Healthier Beverages are Accelerating

Global Consumers’ Demands For Healthier Beverages are Accelerating
February 19
09:30 2021
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Kerry, the Taste & Nutrition company, has released The Right Taste for Healthier Beverages, an informative white paper that examines the rising demand around the world for healthier and tastier beverages. Today, around a third of global consumers are now what Euromonitor terms “immunity seekers”. Often, this “seeking” begins with choosing foods and beverages with reduced sugar and other healthy credentials.

The Right Taste for Healthier Beverages reviews the secular rise in people wishing to live lives more beneficial to both themselves and the planet, and within that goal is a growing desire to make healthier beverage and food choices. This presents a challenge to product developers to respond without sacrificing the taste so many have come to love and expect. The pandemic has helped accelerate this shift in consumer behaviour by revealing evidence that co-morbidities such as obesity and diabetes can lead to more severe outcomes. The paper outlines the technical challenges involved in creating healthier beverages in the key areas of sugar reduction, alternative dairy, low- or no-alcohol drinks and beers, hard seltzers and plant protein beverages, and then outlines optimal ways to formulate tasty, healthy alternatives that will appeal to today’s more health-conscious public.

“COVID-19 has clearly accelerated the trend of consumers seeking healthy foods and beverages,” explains Coralie Garcia Perrin, Global Marketing Director Sweet Taste, Kerry. “At the same time, our research shows that taste remains the top priority for people all over the world. Although commercial beverage manufacturing may appear fairly straightforward, almost all processing and formulation changes can affect taste. As consumers demand these healthier, more nutritious and more sustainable beverages, product developers need to address their health goals while maximizing taste and mouthfeel appeal.”

“In this white paper, the Kerry Tastesense R&D and beverage applications team first focuses generally on beverage trends and formulation challenges, and then drills down to the best ways to formulate healthier beverages that retain their agreeable taste and mouthfeel and, ultimately, foster customer brand loyalty. The solutions presented in the various target areas — sugar reduction, alternative dairy, low- or no-alcohol, and plant protein beverages — should be of interest to every product developer.”

There is little doubt the trend to healthier beverages is here to stay. Currently, more than 35 countries worldwide have implemented sugar taxes as a health strategy. The public’s willingness and desire to curtail their sugar intake continues to heavily influence the industry as a whole, with sweetened-beverage taxation policies precipitating a rapid change in direction for beverage manufacturers globally. According to Mintel, there has been a 44% increase in low-/reduced-sugar products in beverages since 2015. The practice of reducing sugar, however, leads to a number of unintended challenges around taste and mouthfeel, delivery that must be addressed. 

One pivotal trend is an expansion of the range of non-dairy beverages, alternatives that are perceived as “healthier” by 71% of consumers. According to Kerry’s research, more than one-half of protein users now report “dairy-free” as their most important consideration when purchasing protein products. Plant-based beverages, which circumvent the outsized carbon emissions associated with animal products, are widely accepted as being less harmful to the planet. However, taste and texture remain significant challenges given that people simply will not compromise on taste.

Another continuing trend is consumers seeking low- or no-alcohol beverage substitutes that closely mimic the taste of traditional alcohols such as gin. Developing these alternatives requires getting as close to the taste of real alcohol as possible, necessitating quality ingredients to boost the mouthfeel, taste and alcoholic sensation. In addition, over the last five years the public has become aware of such novel beverages as hard seltzers (the US) and low-/no-alcohol spirits (increasingly available in Europe).

“The emergence and meteoric rise of the hard seltzer and low-/no-alcohol categories in recent years is a confirmation that the beverage category is in a time of rapid change. Beverage producers that wish to emerge as market leaders in their categories must aim to develop highly appealing novel products,” adds Garcia Perrin. “We think The Right Taste for Healthier Beverages white paper will be a significant aid to producers as they deal with the thorny taste and formulation challenges they face every day in the quest to deliver new beverage concepts and products.”

The Right Taste for Healthier Beverages white paper can be downloaded here.

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