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New ways in the beverage sector: From alcohol-free to ecologically packaged

7 Apr 2021

Natural ingredients, sustainable drinks and enjoyment with added value - through Covid-19, a new sensibility for health and one's own body awareness has developed. The question "What is good for me?" has become synonymous with an increased expression of self-care in recent weeks and months. From the customers' point of view, beverage producers have long been more than just producers and should promote a holistic lifestyle with their products.

It is important to respond to the changing needs of consumers. The growing popularity of holistic consumption is increasing the demand for beverages that have a positive effect on well-being, serve as a source of energy and reduce stress. Above all, the connection between mental and physical well-being is of great importance. So besides pure enjoyment, the functionality of drinks also plays a decisive role. For example, Tastewise reports that the number of consumers who pay attention to health product benefits such as well-being (+74%) and stress reduction (+14%) has increased significantly during the Corona pandemic. Beverage manufacturers are therefore currently faced with the challenge of successfully reconciling the apparent opposites of enjoyment and health. Those who convey that healthy habits do not mean renouncing good taste will win the attention of increasingly demanding customer groups.

Boom in the non-alcoholic beverage market

While the focus in the non-alcoholic beverage segment in the past was mainly on the modification of spirits, currently innovative wine alternatives are becoming increasingly popular. A look into the future shows how worthwhile the segment is: according to forecasts by Fact.MR, the global non-alcoholic wine market will be worth $10 billion by 2027.

A pioneer in this category is the British brand Juke Cordialities, which offers diverse, wine-inspired syrup drinks. Selected fruits, herbs and organic apple cider vinegar are used to create unusual compositions that reflect the dryness and depth of red, white and rosé wine. Wine taster and writer Matthew Jukes is responsible for the innovative creations. With a complexity of aroma and flavour similar to wine, these drinks are designed to keep you fit and healthy while still tantalising the palate, Jukes explains his company's vision.

Tomen is also transforming the beverage industry with its functional recipes. The American label relies on the power of plant extracts to produce alcohol-free tinctures with wine-like flavours. The use of adaptogenic ingredients such as rosemary, elderberry and white sage draws on influences from traditional Chinese medicine. The botanical formulas are designed to balance body and mind and support concentration, detoxification and digestion.

New flavour variety with Hard Seltzer

Surprising and innovative flavours are in vogue. Brands are therefore relying on unusual ingredients to create completely new taste experiences. For example, in the "Hard Seltzer" product segment developed in the USA in 2016, manufacturers offer unusual varieties such as Lemon Ginger and Cucumber Lime. The popular fruit-flavoured soda water has a low alcohol content of 4.5% to 6% and is an original alternative to traditional beer and wine drinks. The "low-alcohol beverages" are particularly attractive for a health-conscious and active group of buyers, as they have only little sugar and calories.

Less is more: sustainability as a megatrend

When choosing a drink, it is not only what is in it that counts. The packaging is also important, which is why more and more manufacturers are contributing to more sustainability by developing environmentally friendly packaging solutions.

With the worldwide unique "Frugal Bottle", the British packaging company Frugalpac is doing pioneering work in the field of material innovations. The wine and liquor bottles are made from 94% recycled cardboard and are a real lightweight. They weigh five times less than their plastic counterparts and are said to effectively reduce the biological footprint.

The alcohol-free brand Seedlip is also committed to ecological concerns by giving packaging a "second life". The Spice 94 gift box, for example, consists of biomass and mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms. Due to its light weight, the packaging innovation is easily compostable at home. In addition, each box comes with a gift tag made of thyme seeds that transforms the packaging into a herb pot for the windowsill at home.

New technologies are also being used in the spirits sector to make the production process more sustainable and efficient. A good example of this is Bespoken Spirits. After becoming frustrated with the time and cost involved in the spirits industry, co-founder Martin Janousek developed a process that transforms any base spirit into a bespoke premium product. Bespoken's proprietary ACTivation technology enables the extraction of key cask elements that enhance aroma, colour and taste (ACT), but with precision, control and speed. Sustainability is at the heart of this process, as Bespoken Spirits is able to reduce the environmental impact and waste associated with maturation and distillation. With 17 billion potential combinations, the company hopes to help smaller and larger companies experiment more quickly with developing new products or upcycling by-products.

These and other developments show that the beverage industry is being shaped by a variety of sustainable ideas. "Positive drinking", sustainable concepts and varied flavours point the way and convince the modern consumer.