By Greg Gonzales
Need a quick caffeine boost and a blast of antioxidants? The ready-to-drink Matcha Love can do that. Maybe you prefer non-synthetic caffeine extracted from green coffee beans in fruit juice, along with a dose of vitamins — a company called Frava has you covered. Just like, “there’s an app for that,” beverages aren’t just for hydration any more.
“In general, consumers are getting the picture that empty calories are really causing our health problems in this country,” said Chrissy Weiss, a registered dietitian who serves as Director of Marketing and Communications at Culinary Collective. “There’s a movement. These big companies are seeing a decline in regular soda sales and that’s been going on for a couple of years now. There’s a wave of information and a health movement that’s going on in this country. What we’re seeing today is that there’s this whole other wave of people looking for healthy hydration, something that gives them health benefits.” Some of these beverages include plant waters, low-sugar or natural-sugar juices, non-dairy probiotic drinks like kombucha and ready-to-drink simple beverages, like tea and coffee.
Category growth has opened the doors for new producers and expansion opportunities for larger ones, too. The tea market for instance, has grown by 15 times over since 2009. Loose leaf tea, ready-to-drink teas and cold-press coffee at home have become increasingly popular.
According to Weiss, market success in functional and healthy beverages categories is similar. “People are seeing these beverages like an affordable luxury, like specialty coffee drinks. I think these appeal to a lot of people because they’re willing to do something that makes them feel good and buy a product that makes them feel better. … What people pay for these, even when a little pricier, they seem a little more affordable.”
Growth in better-for-you beverages may be coming at the expense of traditional soft drinks. The last two decades have seen soft drinks taking a hard fall, by more than 25 percent, according to the New York Times — by more than $1 billion, since 2011. On the other hand, healthier beverage categories’ double-digit sales growth is expected to continue for years to come. According to Nielsen reports, functional beverage sales increased by 6.9 percent in 2015 and will grow even more rapidly this year. The same report said that 90 percent of 2015 growth in juice beverages came from new product launches.