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Monday, October 19, 2009

'Exotic Functionals' Among Next-Wave Drinks

Cocktails and exotically flavored drinks with functional properties will be key beverage category influences in the years ahead, as consumers' love affair with nutritional offerings that can satisfy their demand for taste combined with health and wellness benefits continues, according to a new Culinary Trend Mapping Report from the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) and Packaged Facts.

Cocktails will continue to experience a renaissance as interest in artisan liquors, as well as retro drinks, gathers momentum. "The same consumers who value local foods, artisan products and traditional food preparation methods are finding those values expressed in the new cocktail movement, with its glorification of pre-Prohibition libations, micro-batch spirits and culinary inspiration," sum up CCD's analysts.

CCD expects cocktails to inspire a wave of ready-to-drink, non-alcoholic beverages as this trend continues to mature.

On the exotic functionals front, pomegranate and blueberry have been overshadowed by goji berry, mangosteen and açaí, and these, in turn, will be overshadowed by aronia, yumberry and other next-wave flavors within the next year or two, according to the beverage trends report, which notes that 53% of U.S. consumers said that they purchased a product specifically for its antioxidant content last year.

Other RTD beverage trends identified and examined in the report include RTD drinks offering a convenient way to ingest traditional ingredients from Eastern cuisines believed to contribute to health and longevity; coconut water (rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium and electrolytes, as well as refreshing); "21st Century sodas" offering sugar cane sugar, natural ingredients and exotic flavors as replacements for high-fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients; kids' functionals that make ingesting probiotics, antioxidants and vitamins fun; and stevia-sweetened drinks.

CCD believes that major beverage manufacturers betting on stevia's ability to revive the soft drink category will be far from alone in launching beverages that take advantage of stevia's versatility.

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