Trends in Soft Drinks for 2017
Healthier hydration continues to be the trend for cold beverage consumption as the "adultification" of the soft drink market continues. Flavored waters like the all natural HINT product shown here provide thirst quenching options in a variety of fruit infused flavors. Concerns around sugar and artificial ingredients are driving this trend, and moving consumers away from both carbonation and many sweetened juice drinks. There has also been a boredom with traditional beverage options in addition to the rising "war on sugar", so many of these new product entries are quickly capturing a portion of this market share. The infusion of plant ingredients and even certain spices have helped launch new entrants into this category. Overall, flavored waters, ready-to-drink coffee and energy drinks have all see significant growth in recent years and these trends are expected to continue.
The Evolution of the Workplace Breakroom
At the National Automatic Merchandising Association's convention, a panel of Millenial leaders discussed their perspective on the continuing evolution of the workplace, and how it impacts food and beverage offerings and availability. Much of the feedback centered around the desire to collaborate in the workplace, and many companies have met this need through shared co-working spaces as well as micro-market and kitchen venues that are designed to promote team building and idea generation. From a technology perspective, those between the ages of 18 and 45 are also not concerned about carrying cash, and prefer mobile transactions for everything from a cup of coffee to a "grab and go" sandwich. Millenials are also fond of loyalty programs that are connected to purchases and preferences. As far as the food itself, transparency is critical - questions such as "where is the food coming from", "who manufactures it", and "what ingredients are used" need to be addressed. Labeling and packaging are vital, and these consumers want to ensure that packages are not only tamper-proof, but also made of recycled materials. Locally sourced and farm-to- table items are sought after, and selections such as artisan breads, all-natural meats and cheeses, and local fruits and vegetables are becoming more of a rule (versus an exception) to support healthy lifestyles. Of course, entrants like Amazon Go and Uber Eats have also added new distribution models to bring products to consumers in today's workplace.