Hybridising Health & Hedonism – US Beverage Trends

Carlsberg’s London Pop Up Chocolate Bar

Highlights from BeverageIn View June 2016:

Consumer research finds that taste/flavour is the primary deciding factor for consumers’ preferred beverage, cited by 72%. Other choice influencers are health and nutrition (21%) and functional attributes (16%). Hybrid beverages that combine great taste with better-for-you benefits are increasingly available and popular. The top three categories of non-alcoholic beverages have seen little growth or even declines. Carbonated soft drinks and juices both recorded 0.1% growth while dairy milk fell 7%. In contrast, energy drinks grew by 8.9%, and coffee sales increased 8.7%. (Source: US Official News, March 25, 2016)

Tea is being mixed with alcoholic beverages such as Bourbon, Vodka, Wine and Cocktails.

The top 10 beverage companies with distribution in the U.S. ranked on 2015 sales are:
The Coca-Cola Co. $44, 294 million; Anheuser-Busch InBev $43,064 million; PepsiCo Inc. $29,636 million; Nestlé SA $24,477 million; Heineken NV $23,391 million; Diageo $22,741 million; Suntory Holdings $22,410 million; SABMiller PLC $22,130 million; Starbucks Corp. $19,200 million; Unilever Group $19,200 million;

After increasing 89% in 2013 and 71% in 2014, hard cider sales rose only 10% in 2015 leading some to theorize the cider craze has peaked.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority created a custom beer brand #WHHSH, a social media hashtag for the city’s famous tagline. The black-labeled beer won’t be sold to the public but will be given away for free at events designed to promote Las Vegas to potential tourists. The beer is brewed by Tenaya Creek Brewery of Las Vegas, a local craft brewer. (Source: Advertising Age, April 11, 2016)

The global beer market is expected to hit $688.4 billion by 2020. The international beer market has been shaken up by beer’s increasing popularity in China. Four of the 10 top-selling beers worldwide are Chinese. The top 10 beer brands internationally and their market shares are: Snow (5.4%), Tsingtao (2.8%), Bud Light (2.5%), Budweiser (2.3%), Skol (2.1%), Yanjing (1.9%), Heineken (1.5%), Harbin (1.5%), Brahma (1.5%), and Coors Light (1.3%). (Source: Business Insider, May 9, 2016)

A survey of craft beer drinkers found they are more interested in healthy habits such as exercising, watching their weight, and drinking alcohol only occasionally than other monthly drinkers. Sixty percent of Millennial craft beer drinkers say they only drink alcohol on weekends and 44% observe periods of not drinking at all to maintain their health. Given the healthy focus of many craft beer drinkers, brewers are encouraged to be transparent when it comes to nutrition labeling which 78% of craft beer drinkers say are important to read when buying food and beverages. (Source: Brewbound, June 10, 2016)

A new study delves into the habits of craft beer drinkers at point of purchase. Almost 60% have used their smartphone to help decide what beer to choose off the shelf while 74% have used their mobile device to read up on beer before going to the store. Among craft beer drinkers, 72% say they are more likely to try a new beer if they can read information about it. Those who are searching for information about a brand while standing in front of the shelf are looking for reviews about one-third of the time. Craft beer drinks who use their mobile phone in-store would like to be offered rebates or coupons (75%), information about pricing (65%), brand specific information (52%), and retail locations that carry specific brands (51%) or have it in-stock (49%). (Source: Adweek, June 19, 2016)

A federal judge refused to block a San Francisco ordinance that requires warning labels on outdoor advertisements for soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. The new rule will take effect on July 25. The warning must appear on posters and billboards and say “WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.” (Source: Law360, May 17, 2016)

The City of Philadelphia approved a tax that would raise the price of a soft drink – both sugar-added and artificially sweetened – by 18 cents per can. The tax will be used to help pay for pre-kindergarten and other popular services. At 1.5 cents per ounce, the proposed tax levy is 50% higher than the assessment in Berkeley, California, the first city to impose such a measure. A recent poll found that 59% of Philadelphians backed the sugary drink tax which has been endorsed by the Philadelphia Inquirer. (Source: The Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2016; CNN Money, June 16, 2016)


In the past 15 years, per capita consumption of bottled water has increased 120% from 16.7 gallons in 2000 to 36.7 gallons in 2015. During the same time, the combined volume of all other liquid refreshment beverages decreased from 95.7 gallons per person to 80.1 gallons, a 16.3% decline. An analysis estimates that by choosing bottled water over other drinks, an average individual consumed 24,000 to 27,000 fewer calories in 2015 than a typical person did in 2000. (Source: Beverage Industry, June 7, 2016)

Coffee houses are reporting increasing demand for more iced espressos and lattes. During the last quarter of 2015, Starbucks reported a 20% increase in iced drinks nationwide following its introduction of a new cold brew coffee. Coffee makers – including Peet’s, Illy, High Brew, La Colombe, and Chameleon Cold-Brew – are pushing to get more high-end, low-calorie, less-sugary cold brews and lattes onto store shelves. The U.S. ready-to-drink coffee market has been growing by double-digits annually since 2011 and is expected to reach nearly $3.6 billion by 2020. (Source: Bloomberg, May 23, 2016)

Consumers have begun to realize how much sugar sports drinks contain – over 50 grams per 32-ounce bottle, much more than the average person needs. In response, sports drinks are offering lower- and no-calorie versions. Sports drinks are also being tailored to meet specific needs such as a high-sugar version for athletes needing energy, carb-heavy versions for athletes needing endurance, and low-calorie options for simple hydration needs. In addition, Gatorade and Powerade have eliminated brominated vegetable oil from their ingredient lists in response to an online campaign begun by a 15-year old. The next phase of sports drinks appears to be meeting individual nutritional needs. Gatorade is testing small pods of liquid formulated to individual needs as determined by Gatorade’s sweat patch. The pods snap into bottles of Gatorade to deliver the necessary nutrients. (Source: Business Insider, March 26, 2016)

Overall, revenue for the U.S. distilled spirits category grew 4.1% in 2015 while volume was up 2%. The gap between dollars and cases is expected to widen as more drinkers opt for premium and superpremium drinks. Among sub-segments, Irish whiskey had the strongest growth rate at 16.1% followed by single malt Scotch whiskey at 13%, blended whiskey at 8.8%, tequila at 7.4%, and brandy and cognac at 7.2%. Sub-segments with declining growth include cordials at -1.9%, gin at -1.8%, and rum at -1.5%. (Source: Beverage World, May 2016)

Juice sales have stagnated in recent years due to increasing competition from other healthy drink categories, heightened concerns about the calorie and sugar content in juice, and growing aversion to artificial ingredients. (Source: Beverage World, May 2016)

A new survey finds that Americans’ favorite place to drink wine is at home with 47% of Millennials and 61% of Gen X and Baby Boomers preferring it over social gatherings, restaurants, or wineries. This preference could be part of a wider movement towards “hometainment” or socializing at home to save money. The same survey found that bars are the least popular place to drink wine with only 3% choosing it as their favorite. (Source: Business Insider, May 3, 2016)

And from the “Only in America” file:

New Belgium Brewing is teaming up with Ben & Jerry’s to offer another ice cream-inspired ale. The Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale will roll out this fall. The two companies previously released Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale. Proceeds up to $50,000 from the sales of the new offering will benefit Protect Our Winters which is a non-profit focused on climate change. (Source: Fox31 in Denver, June 20, 2016)

Carlsberg created a chocolate bar – a drinking establishment made entirely out of chocolate – outside of the Old Truman Brewery in London as part of the ongoing “If Carlsberg Did” campaign. Initially the bar was disguised as a billboard in the shape of a giant candy bar which was unwrapped to reveal the bar which was constructed from 1,000 pounds of chocolate. Measuring 5 meters wide by three meters high by two meters deep, the bar included bar stools and a television and served half-pints of Carlsberg beer in chocolate glasses. The bar was only in business for half-a-day and the promotion was tied to the Easter holiday. (Source: Adweek, March 24, 2016)


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