Beverage trends take flavorful direction

Beer

Beverage offerings are a large part of any hotel restaurant and bar menu. Several recent trends affecting alcoholic and nonalcoholic preferences might change what hotel food-and-beverage managers are offering at their outlets.

According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database, new flavored beer product launches have grown from just 15 percent of total US beer launches in 2010 to 27 percent of total US beer launches in 2015, an 80-percent increase over the five-year period.

In 2015, 20 percent of beer drinkers drank flavored beer, with usage peaking among women ages 22 to 34 (39 percent), according to Mintel.

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The group said that the importance of flavored beer is confirmed by the fact that 57 percent of beer drinkers who increased their beer consumption in 2015 credit this increase to a wider availability of flavors. Overall, as many as three in five (58 percent) U.S. alcohol drinkers say they are interested in fruit flavored beer, with other flavors such as spicy (45 percent) tart/sour (45 percent) and beer blended with juice, tea and soft drinks (49 percent) also showing strong potential.

“Mintel research reveals an explosion of innovation in the flavored beer category. The fact that well over half of all US alcohol drinkers say they are interested in flavored beer highlights a significant opportunity to boost participation in the beer category. Leading flavors among product launches include pumpkin, spicy, coffee and chocolate, while newer products, including hard or alcoholic sodas, have become more widely available,” said Beth Bloom, food and drink analyst at Mintel. “The trend differs from the boom seen in flavored vodka a few years back in that flavored beer launches are exploring more adult formulations and steering clear of gimmicks such as whipped cream, coconut cream pie, and Dreamsicle varieties.”

According to Business Insider, another trend that is expected to be big going forward is gluten-free beer.

“Gluten-free options are coming to the forefront with people being health conscious,” Evan Puchalsky, beverage manager for The ONE Group, told Business Insider. “Beer companies are removing gluten from their beer and cider is becoming trendy.”

As gluten-free breweries increase in number and experience, the gluten-free beers are increasingly as high quality and complex as the traditional brew, the website stated.

In general, beer is the nation’s most popular alcoholic drink with nearly one quarter (24 percent) of U.S. adults saying it is the alcoholic beverage they drink most often, according to Mintel. This is significantly higher than any other alcoholic beverage, including wine (16 percent). More than 44 percent of U.S. consumers are beer drinkers, with men (59 percent) twice as likely as women (29 percent) to be drinkers. Beer drinking among millennials (48 percent) and Hispanics (48 percent) is also well above average.

When it comes to nonalcoholic beverages, Mintel research shows that taste/flavor (72 percent) is by far the main influencer for consumers when drinking preferred beverages, with health/nutritional attributes (21 percent) and functional attributes (16 percent) far less influential.

The top three categories of nonalcoholic beverages saw stagnant or declining sales from 2014-2015, according to Mintel, with carbonated soft drinks (0.1 percent growth), juice (0.1 percent growth) and dairy milk (7 percent decline) suffering the most. This comes as trending beverage categories, including energy drinks (8.9 percent growth) and coffee (8.7 percent growth), experienced strong sales growth.

Although the majority of consumers drink juice (66 percent), carbonated soft drinks (64 percent) and dairy milk (64 percent), Mintel research indicates consumers are looking for alternative drink options. In fact, two thirds (67 percent) of Americans sometimes or frequently purchase new/different beverages, and 18 percent say they drink a wide variety of beverages.

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