Our beverage experts formulate dozens of new and innovative drinks for clients every day, making them a valuable resource for the latest flavor trends. In December, our team got together to predict the trends we expect to take over the beverage industry in 2020 and our forecast features botanicals as one of the top 3 flavors set up for success in a year favoring the fresh and functional.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at the world’s attraction to botanicals as drink flavors and ingredients, and the ways they are being used in beverage application. Let get into it!

Botanicals as an Ingredient

A category that includes herbs, flowers, and spices, botanicals are proving to be much more than just a garnish for your favorite drinks. And as demand continues to increase for natural, functional beverages, botanicals are becoming more and more prevalent as a flavorful addition to drinks of all types.

As an ingredient, botanicals provide a variety of health benefits depending on the plant from which they derive; this makes them the perfect addition to any functional beverage. Take peppermint for example: a cross between watermint and spearmint, peppermint is an herb with a delightful flavor and many health properties. It’s particularly known for its effectiveness in treating indigestion, easing migraines, clearing the sinuses, boosting energy, and relieving menstrual cramps. The best part? It pairs great with classic morning beverages like coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.

Of course, there are hundreds, if not thousands more ingredients that fall under the umbrella of botanicals. Each offer their own natural, unique health properties that are best enjoyed in the form of a delicious drink.

It follows then that consumers also tend to associate botanical-infused drinks with wellness, and as a consequence, see beverages with botanical flavors as “better-for-you” and clean label products. This has helped fuel the popularity of botanicals in drinks of all kinds.


Botanicals as a Drink Flavor

The diversity of botanicals’ functional benefits is only rivaled by its assortment of flavors. Thanks to the sheer variety of this category of ingredients, the flavor possibilities and beverage pairings are truly limitless.  This reflects what we’re seeing come out of the Flavorman lab, where our beverage architects make a variety of botanically infused or flavored drinks — both alcoholic and non-alcoholic — based on our clients’ specifications.

The floral and herbal profiles of botanicals add fresh, delicate flavor combinations that level up any fizzy drink without leaning too heavily on sugary sweeteners for taste. Meanwhile, the subtle and aromatic flavors of basil, cilantro, lavender, and elderflower — as well as the sour, tart flavors of sorrel and orange peel — are perfect for pairing with new, complex blends in juices, teas, and more. Flavors highlighting wood and pine notes (think fir needle, balsam, or cedar) add another dimension of freshness and complexity to a refreshing next generation of beverages, paving the way for nutty lattes and artisan sodas.

It’s no surprise that the beverage industry has begun to embrace this trend, incorporating a variety of botanicals into their products in ways that are not only health-beneficial, but tasty. So while they have traditionally been used almost exclusively in gins, teas, and water, botanicals are quickly making their way into beverages of all types.


How Botanicals Continue to Change What the World is Drinking

As consumers become more health-conscious, trends reflect a market shift towards beverages that maximize on quality and functionality, all while packing a flavor punch. Botanicals have the advantage of delivering on both.

A recent study found that the global plant-based beverage market is expected to reach $33.96 billion by 2026, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.3% from 2017 to 2026. Meanwhile, Zion Market Research found that the global food botanicals market was approximately $1,186.1 billion in 2018 and is expected to generate around $1,489.3 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of about 3.2% between 2019 and 2025.

The majority of this interest in botanical flavors has been attributed to changing consumer tastes and demand for increased benefits, transparency, and authenticity from beverages. Because botanicals are so closely aligned with wellness and functionality, these types of ingredients have applications for drinks across categories.

Following these trends and what we’ve seen coming through our lab at Flavorman, our beverage experts predict that botanicals will likely be used in 2020 to create fresh, interesting flavor combinations for sophisticated new takes on non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks of all kinds — from tonics and seltzers, to coffee, teas, juices, and more. And thanks to a burgeoning craft spirits movement, botanicals are sure to feature in the next generation of tasty spirits and RTD beverages, especially in the low to no ABV space.

From a functional ingredient to a refreshing beverage flavor, botanicals have continued to change what the world is drinking. There’s sure to be more innovation to come, and who knows? Maybe your drink idea will be next.

To learn more about how the beverage development experts at Flavorman can help you bring your botanical drink to life, fill out this web form or give us a call at (502) 273-5214 to get started.


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Written on March 25, 2020.