‘Bitter is better’ in growing fermented beverage market, Imbibe says

Bonafide drinkable veggies beverages are an example of savory category convergence, combining bone broth with vegetables, Orlofsky of Imbibe explained.

Vegetable-based, fermented, and animal-based beverages are all rising players in the savory drinks category as consumers look for simpler, more convenient ways to achieve their nutrition goals.

“Convenience plays a huge role in food and beverage sales, so being able to achieve your nutrition goals while on-the-go draws consumers to nutrient-dense beverages of all kinds,” Ilana Orlofsky, marketing coordinator at Imbibe, told BeverageDaily.

Transparent taste profiles

While fermented beverages may be an “acquired taste,” the category’s rapid growth in the past year shows that consumers are becoming more accepting of less traditional flavors seen in the beverage category.

Imbibe predicts consumers will continue to expand their palates and become more open to beverages that highlight instead of mask the inherent flavor of its ingredients - especially in the fermented and vegetable-based beverage space.

“Bitter is a flavor profile we expect to see more of in the coming months, so consumers that believe bitter is better will also help drive veggie-based beverage growth,” Orlofsky said.

“With the rise in restaurants that develop vegetable dishes with meat-like preparations, I suspect consumers will be on-board with veggie-based drinks that tout benefits, even if they also taste like vegetables,” she said.

Beverages with natural health claims

Beverages containing ingredients with natural health benefits such as the omega-3 properties of chia seeds, anti-inflammatory claims of turmeric, or probiotics that exist as a by-product of fermentation are becoming increasingly appealing to consumers.

“Many consumers are also looking to decrease their sugar intake, which is easier to achieve with savory than sweet,” Orlofsky said.

The impending Nutrition Fact Panel change will likely make consumers more aware of their daily sugar intake as the new labeling will include a line for added sugars and a recommended daily value of sugar (50 grams per day).

“Consumers will likely respond if they’re disappointed or shocked at the sugar content of products based on the new recommendation,” Orlofsky said.

Animal-based fits into consumer demand for protein

Animal-based beverages like bone broth are appearing on store shelves, but have to overcome the hurdle of convenience because many suggest being heated before consuming.

“Any time you add another step to product preparation, you’ve decreased the convenience factor, which might make some consumers less interested,” she said.

However, Orlofsky believes that animal-based beverages will be successful if they highlight their protein offering to consumers.

“Protein is in high demand, and while more consumers look to plant-based sources, there’s still interest in protein from animal sources,” Orlofsky said. 

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