Trends

Written on September 26, 2022.

So, you have a ground-breaking idea for your beverage. Excellent! Now you have to start building a beverage brand!  But where do you start? You could start with the ingredients or the flavor you want to develop. You could begin with how to package it, but the further you travel down that rabbit hole, you may find yourself circling back to how you are going to market your beverage. Doing the hard work upfront such as understanding your target audience, establishing your brand’s identity, and working with the right professionals along the way will help you immensely in building your beverage brand and the strategy you take into the market.

Finding Your Target Audience 

You can start from many different points in the beverage development process but determining your target audience first can help you discover what makes your brand unique and visually appealing, gradually helping you boil down your beverage profile. Whomever you decide to sell your beverage to will play a key role in what goes into your drink and how it’s promoted. Let’s hypothetically say you want your drink to appeal to a Caribbean audience. To do so, you may want to think of more tropical blends of fruit flavors to use in your beverage. Or, if your target audience is children, you might want to brainstorm popular packaging trends in that age demographic.

“Your selection of flavors should appeal to your intended audience and attract them to trying your product. The same could be said with sweetener choices. Choose the ingredients that reinforce your brand identity and makes a difference to your target consumers.”- Brad Nichols, Director of Business Development – Flavorman

When imagining your target audience, not only do you want to consider current trends, but you’ll also want to think about age demographics, what your audience values, and what they will get out of a product. Picking your target audience can be very intuitive; most people aim to create a drink they would like personally or a beverage that appeals to family and friends. While it can be a great place to start, you want to be especially specific, considering that many brands in the market may already fill that void. How will your beverage or brand stand out in the market? It can be a lot to think about, but the best way to narrow your audience down is to consider what people value and how your product might add to their lives. You also might want to think about what entertains or grabs your audience’s attention. When promoting to younger demographics, you might consider using mascots or cartoons. Or, if you’re selling to blue-collar workers, you might want to show how your product can fit or improve their work schedule. Establishing that target audience will not only help make ingredient decisions, but it will also lead to your overall characteristics or brand attributes. 

Building a Beverage Brand

Brand Attributes  

When marketing your beverage, you’ll also want to consider the characteristics that make your brand unique. Think of it this way, many brands have attributes that set them apart; for example, Amazon emphasizes its fast-shipping delivery or, Digiorno emphasizes its restaurant-quality pizza. Other brands use their intriguing backstories to promote their products, such as Uncle Nearest and others that advertise for convenience, like Kool-Aid. When establishing the identity of your brand, brainstorm the unique features that separate you from your competitors.

“Brand attributes are the pillars that set the foundation for the narrative or the strategic positioning of your brand in the marketplace. That’s critical because being consistent against that foundation or that narrative is really what’s going to set your brand apart in the marketplace and really attract people to it.”Jeff Insco, President/Executive Director – UPBrand

Does your brand have a captivating story behind its creation? Is there something in your beverages that will improve someone’s life? Are there other services that you want to provide under the brand? Our brand attributes help establish our own identity that we use to make our brand unique and stay consistent. One way to help you begin conjuring your brand attributes is to think of your brand as a living being. What descriptors would you attach to them? Brand attributes are the conceptual ideas, characteristics, and stories that paint a mental picture of the brand. Once those brand attributes are established you can work on developing a product that fits your brand and create your visual identity. 

 Building a Beverage Brand

Flavorman’s Brand Attributes:

  • The Total Beverage Package: Unlike others in the beverage formulation space, our services span the entire continuum of the beverage development process. We offer beverage education, certification, flavor formulation, production, regulatory, R&D, sourcing, manufacturing and more– a single source solution.
  • Unmatched Expertise:  We bring decades of experience from the beverage industry. Our seasoned team represents a range in specialties including flavor chemistry, product development, production, distillery operations, beverage quality control, packaging, and other technical beverage areas with access to an extensive roster of industry partners. Throughout the experience with [our brand], clients learn from the best in the business.
  • Your constant collaborator:  Flavorman considers our client’s beverage a journey. The process is designed to ensure clients have a voice and gain important industry knowledge to increase their opportunity for success. We win when clients win.
  • An Elite Experience:  We’ve spent decades perfecting our services, processes and products to give customers a world-class experience and uphold our reputation for excellence in the beverage industry. From the first encounter to their finished product, clients reap the benefits of our immersive, service-oriented business model. We provide solutions!
  • Customized to a Client’s Vision: No client’s experience, goals, or dreams are the same. Flavorman provides solutions and flexibly designed to deliver what a client requires and explores the possibilities for what a client could achieve.

Visual Identity  

One of the first things you think of when you think of a brand you like is the logo. Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Jim Beam and many more brands have memorable visual identities that grab your attention. Once you have established your brand attributes, you can start conceptualizing your brand’s visual identity. While working with a marketing agency, you can begin creating branded collateral and ensure that your brand’s visual aesthetic fits today’s standards. First, you must set the stage of your visual identity, which means deciding on a few key elements such as color, typography, voice/tone, and aesthetic styles that ultimately help you create a visual portfolio that represents your brand. Your brand’s visual identity needs to stay consistent throughout all platforms and mediums. A combination of those visual attributes will give you the tools to create a roadmap for your brand’s visual story. Afterwards you can start thinking about your logos, labels, website, packaging, and advertisements for your product. It’s important to note that your visual identity is more than just one of these visual aspects; they are visual pieces of a larger puzzle that tell the story and characteristics of your brand. 

“We use the brand attributes and assets to inspire our creative team to create a visual vocabulary for the brand. That could be colors, typefaces or fonts, iconography, logo marks; all the things that are going to visually send a cue about your brand.”- Jeff Insco, President/Executive Director – UPBrand

Building a Beverage Brand

Once you’ve done the hard work of identifying your target audience, establishing brand attributes, and creating a visual identity you’re ready to begin strategizing. Your market strategy will cover distribution, advertising, public relations, content creation, and social media. Having a solid market strategy will help you control the narrative of your brand, how it’s regarded, and how it’s discussed. Everything from an intriguing backstory of your product, demographics, brand attributes, and the resulting consistent visual themes, all play a role in establishing the overall identity of your brand and how you communicate that to the market.

“When looking for a marketing agency, be open about the problems you’re trying to solve. Agencies are fundamentally creative problem solvers. Be fully transparent and authentic about what you’re trying to do. It’s how we work best with our clients, and that’s the same throughout the business.” McKenzie Telthorst, VP of Brand Management – UPBrand

When you’re ready to talk about your idea to change what the world is drinking, give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or get started with this web form.

 

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2022 Beverage Trends  

Written on July 14, 2022.

Cherry flavors

For years cherry flavor has been a crowd favorite amongst consumers in the food and beverage industry. Cherry flavors have always been popular in whatever form they take and are often part of a core set of flavors, such as watermelon, strawberry, apple, grape, and most significantly, cherry. Even in traditional and alcoholic beverages, cherries have always been popular among consumers, and the flavor never ceases to be sold. As predicted in our 2022 Beverage Trends, we anticipated cherry playing a larger role as consumers continued desiring familiar flavors that would transport them back to a time of comfort. Ringing true to our predictions, this year, nearly 7% of all incoming beverage requests have included the desired cherry component. So, why are cherry flavors so popular? Is it an eye-catching color? The symbolism? Or are there chemical compounds specifically designed to make us want more.

What Makes Cherries so Sweet?

The flavor we often associate with cherry-flavored products on the market may not exactly taste like a cherry on a tree. As with most fruit-flavored candies or beverages, what you taste can be derived from the flavor chemistry of the named fruit, but often, the levels and types of these materials used can be accentuated. A flavor chemist can create a flavor profile of any given fruit based on analytical data which resembles the chemical makeup found in nature; this is true for every kind of fruit-flavored beverage – from bananas to blueberries, for example. Additionally, creative liberties can be taken for additional flavor notes to be added. For example, our customer may want some berry or vanilla notes which may not be contained in the chemical makeup of the actual fruit but can accentuate or steer the direction of the flavor profile for the benefit of the finished product.

Cherry flavors

The dominant aroma chemical in cherries is benzaldehyde, which people often associate with cherry flavor. Benzaldehyde can also sometimes make the cherry flavor in beverages taste different from the actual fruit. Benzaldehyde is found in low levels in the aroma chemical makeup of cherry fruit; however, this material has become the benchmark of what a cherry flavor should be perceived as and is used in higher concentrations for more impact, which isn’t always truly representative depending on the varietal of cherry you are making. Additionally, because of its tenacity, benzaldehyde is used in pharmaceutical products to mask off-notes, cough drops, and syrup, which causes people to associate it as medicinal.

Other materials are found in more significant amounts; however, benzaldehyde is powerful and has a dominant character making it the primary compound people identify as the traditional cherry taste.

Other compounds which make up the cherry flavors are:

  1. Eugenol, which tastes like clove.
  2. Linalool has a floral and woody flavor.
  3. Hexanal (cis 3-hexenal/trans-2-hexenal) which has a grassy taste.
  4. Phenylacetaldehyde makes a honey-like sweet flavor.

The Verdict

So why is cherry flavor so popular? Its ruby color derives thoughts of treasure and good fortune as used in paintings and religious stories, and its symbolism alludes to sexuality in a way that makes the fruit even more appealing – a connotation marketers have used to sell cherry-flavored products for years. While cherries have other desirable aspects, the most compelling verdict is that the compounds found in the cherry and the additional ingredients designed by flavor architects create an irresistible taste. Ultimately the cherries’ endurance is because of their flavor. Whether it be to quench your thirst, satisfy your sweet tooth, or mask the bitter taste of liquid medicine, the cherry reigns supreme.

Do you have a great drink idea? Our team of beverage experts can help you bring it to life—and change what the world is drinking. Get started by filling out this webform or by giving us a call at (502) 273-5214.

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Written on June 16, 2022.

Juneteenth is a national holiday dedicated to not only the end of slavery within the United States, but to also celebrate African Americans’ history, culture, and contributions.  Although it is a recent national holiday, it has been celebrated for years, and here at Flavorman, we believe in uplifting those accomplishments and achievements as well. African Americans in the past and now are making bold innovations in the beverage industry. Not only do we want to uplift those that are making drinks, but also those that have a hand in helping the beverage industry grow and reach new audiences. At Flavorman, we want to celebrate 5 people within the African diaspora who are innovators in the beverage world.

Nathan Green- Master Distiller 

There are a lot of unsung and unnoticed African Americans that have helped shape the modern world through inventions and skills. Through obscurity, Nathan Green was almost one of those individuals lost to the sands of time. Still, thanks to the research of 20 Journalists, historians, archivists, archaeologists, conservators, and genealogists, his story has been brought to the light.

Nathan Green was born into slavery and was freed with the ratification of slavery. Green was owned by a preacher named Dan Col,  and continued to work with Col in his side-hustle of distilling whisky after the ratification of slavery. Dan Col took in a boy who would later be known as “Jack Daniel” who wanted to be involved in the whisky distilling business. Not much older than Jack, Green was charged to teach him the technique of distilling Tennessee whisky. Green derived his method from West Africa called “sugar-maple-charcoal” filtering. It was also known as the “the Lincoln County process,” and it was a method of distilling whiskey that gave it a unique smoothness. Once Jack got older, he made a career selling whiskey around town and to soldiers during the civil war. When Jack got older, he bought the distilling business from Dan Col and hired Nathan, or “Uncle Nearest” as he liked to call him, as the first master distiller of Jack Daniel’s whiskey company. Jack would later employ green’s sons Eli, Lewis, and George in the business.

Nathan Green’s contribution to the whiskey industry went unnoticed for years, but his work in establishing one of the most well-known alcohol beverages shouldn’t go unnoticed. Nathan Green’s methods are not only innovative in his use of whiskey distilling at the time, but it also touches back to the African roots from which he had been ripped away, making his story and contribution more unique. Thanks to those dedicated historians, and with some endorsement from actor Jeffery Wright, Nathan Green was finally given his own whisky brand in 2019 with the Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey company. The premium whiskey has now earned 450 awards for three consecutive years, is available in all 50 states, and has been dubbed on the website as the “Malt Disney world.

 Mikaila Ulmer- Me and the Bees Lemonade 

One of the youngest entrepreneurs and beverage innovators at 17 years old, Mikaila Ulmer, is the C.E.O. and inventor of “Me and the Bees Lemonade.” Years ago, Ulmer was stung by a bee twice. To ease her pain Ulmer learned about Bees and suddenly became fascinated with what they contributed to the overall ecosystem. One day her parents told her about a Children’s Business competition, and Ulmer got the idea to use her grandmother’s “flaxseed” lemonade recipe. To make the lemonade more unique, Ulmer thought back to her fascination with bees and decided that instead of using sugar for her lemonade, she would use honey from bees. In wanting to preserve the life and the ecosystem the bees helped to maintain, Ulmer dedicates a percentage of her lemonade sales to organizations that help save bees. Ulmer’s business motto is “Buy a bottle, save a bee.”

Ulmer’s lemonade grew in popularity in Austin, Texas, and is now sold in Whole Foods, Fresh Market, World Market, and H-E-B across the state, as well as Kroger stores and Vitamin cottage natural stores. Not only does Mikaila Ulmer work with environmental organizations such as the “Healthy Hive Foundation,” but she has also published a book titled Bee Fearless, Dream Like a Kid. Ulmer’s innovations and ideas are not only in the beverage industry but also in the overall preservation of the ecosystem and the bees, which are in danger of extinction.

Marc Farrell- Ten to One Rum

A Trinidadian native, Marc Farrell not only made a delicious rum from authentic Caribbean ingredients but has also used the rum to connect more people with Caribbean culture and history. An M.I.T., Cambridge, and Harvard Business school graduate, Marc Farrell became the youngest Vice President of Starbucks. After leaving the position, Farrell became fascinated with the public perception that rum carried. Farrell wanted to take the image and connotation of rum away from its roots in slavery, pirating, and British colonialism and imbue it with Caribbean history and culture that is proud and strong.

The flavoring and ingredients of “Ten to one” rum are also authentic to Caribbean culture; the dark rum blends bourbon-aged Barbadian, Dominican, Jamaican, and Trinidadian rums with no added flavoring or sugar. The white version of the rum blends Jamaican pot-still rum and Dominican column-still rum with zesty jasmine and honeysuckle.

Marc Farrell is a trailblazer for his company and to the rum industry overall. Farrell is making his rum more authentic and closer to the culture that helped produce rum, and he is also using his product to promote other Caribbean artists with clothing brands and musicians associated with the brand, including Ciera and those of the “New Calypso” movement.

Tamala Austin- J.I.V.E. Juice 

Houston Texas native Tamala Austin is the founder and C.E.O. of a juice and smoothie company known as J.I.V.E. juice which stands for “Juice Is Very Essential.” After receiving a diagnosis of high blood pressure, Tamala started seriously thinking about her health and wellness. Around this time, she began creating juices and smoothies made from natural fruits and ingredients for herself. Eventually, Tamala started selling the juice and smoothies out of her Texas house and became famous through word-of-mouth marketing. Austin’s juice and smoothies grew more popular, and suddenly J.I.V.E. juice was born! As a certified health professional, Tamala Austin believes “Your health is your wealth. Your health is our business.”

When the company expanded, the J.I.V.E. juice company became the first business owned by an African American to be shelved and stocked in Whole Foods. Her juice and smoothies are guaranteed to help boost your energy, improve your digestion, and improve your immune system. The J.I.V.E. team can also customize drinks with the clients’ health in mind and made with natural fruit ingredients free of additive sugars or fats.

Tamala Austin and her J.I.V.E. company are innovators because they are not only making strides within the juice and beverage world but making a definitive and conscious effort to make their products healthy for the customers. Many brands and companies seek to make a profit, and while J.I.V.E. does charge, they also aim to please and help the customer for their long-term health and wellness.

Andra Aj Johnson- Beverage Director

Although she’s mainly known for being a beverage director, Andra Aj Johnson has worn multiple hats within the food and beverage industry since she was 14. An Afro-Latino who grew up in the black and urban neighborhoods of Washington, DC, Andra Johnson is a managing partner and director of her of her own restaurant and bar Serenata , a bar director, and a cocktail mixologist. As a hospitality industry leader, Andra Johnson is level 1 in the Court of master sommeliers and a Cicerone-certified beer server, is only some of the few accomplishments that demonstrate her wide-range of skills and knowledge. She also spearheads an initiative cocktail program, called “Back to Black,” which strives to raise funds and donate to overlooked and underfunded charities and organizations in Washington, DC, especially those within urban neighborhoods.

Andra Johnson is a cut above the rest for not only wearing many different hats in the food and beverage industry but also for using cocktails and drinks to tell stories. Johnson loves to use the combination of cocktail ingredients to reflect a culture, a moment in history, or her people. “Crafting cocktails is a gateway to storytelling and collaboration. Each cocktail is imbued with a meaning and a story to tell.” Andra Johnson intends to share her industry knowledge and tell more stories in her upcoming book White Plates, Black Faces.   

All kinds of people are accomplishing innovations and excellent achievements. If Juneteenth has taught us anything, it’s that we should work to recognize and celebrate the works of the different cultures we encounter in our lives. The five people we listed are certainly not the only ones making significant changes within the beverage industry. We at Flavorman encourage clients to seek and shout out people from underrepresented communities who are inventing and creating new beverages that will change how the world drinks.

Do you have a great drink idea? Our team of beverage experts can help you bring it to life—and change what the world is drinking. Get started by filling out this webform or by giving us a call at (502) 273-5214.

Written on April 15, 2022.

COVID Consumer Habits

Written by David Dafoe, Cheif Executive Officer & Founder

When I started working in the beverage industry in 1986, almost all of the beverages we created contained flavors that were natural and artificial.  The beverage landscape was quite simple, with a mix of typical soda flavors, a few juices, traditional wines, spirits, and beers sold by large companies with little to no choice for variation. These beverages, for the most part, were packaged in standard bottles and cans with relatively simple graphics, side by side on store shelves.

This was a time before wine coolers, energy drinks, ready-made cocktails, tropical juice flavors, “all-natural” health beverages, dozens of beer variations, and spirits in hundreds of categories, representing a myriad of packaging and serving styles from manufacturers large and small. The beverage industry had wildly progressed into an ever-changing mix of trends, flavors, fads, and fickle consumer preferences. Then, in 2020, we paused.

Consumer Habits

In the sudden shock of COVID, consumers were comforted with familiar flavors in beverages across all categories. Childhood favorites like watermelon, strawberry, cherry, apple, and grape saw a resurgence as consumers gravitated towards immediately recognizable flavor profiles, preferring to reach for drinks that were traditional, relatable, and familiar. It seemed like overnight, consumers had stepped back to the things they knew and understood to bring comfort and make the ridiculously absurd COVID world feel normal, at least for a moment.

Consumers quickly trended toward “ready to drink” pre-mixed alcoholic beverages that were easy to buy, store and drink.  Ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails had started to build steam in recent years, but took off like a rocket during quarantine, delivering an easy solution for consumers to drink at home the cocktails they may have previously consumed in a bar or restaurant. Manhattans, Margaritas, and Gin and Tonic are now close at hand and available with the crack of a tab. Store shelves ballooned with carbonated cocktails, noncarbonated favorites, and cream-based RTDs. It was a match made in COVIDville!

Similarly, healthy and clean-label drinks became a favorite of families with kids at home learning remotely. Beverages with low sugar content and vitamins and minerals enhanced with flavors their parents recognized from their childhood were rising in popularity and being generated by product developers all around the country. “Make it healthy, simple, and familiar” was the demand of this market.

Beverages In stores

Generally, large alcohol companies sold well, as their brands were well-known and comfortable for consumers—a clear disadvantage for craft distillers. In a flash, consumers were more willing to spend money on something tried and true, and became less likely to spend money on a more expensive craft beverage that they had never tried. Adventure and exploration had been thrown out the window and classic was king. At the same time, newly health-conscious consumers became familiar with low- or no-alcohol brands and mocktails. Although both classic, established beverages and “good-for-you” spirits gained ground during COVID, no large alcohol companies seemed to lean into the healthy trend, keeping this market segment popular and “new.”

And let us not forget the common COVID symptom, loss of taste and smell, pushing afflicted consumers into bolder, more flavorful options and giving beverage manufacturers an advantage in introducing new products. Making drinks more flavorful became the mantra in beverage creation labs.  Add a bit more flavor to the beverage, make it more distinct, but still keep with traditional favorites so COVID-affected consumers have choices.

Conclusions

As we move towards the end of major COVID surges, we can see several things that will likely remain in the beverage industry for some time. First, consumers have driven flavor profiles to a more familiar and nostalgic slant.  Although we cannot control what has happened in our COVID world, we can imbibe on beverages and flavors that take us back to a simpler, “normal” time. Secondly, “ready to drink” is here to stay, making it easy to buy, store and enjoy a cocktail anytime and anywhere. Third, tried and true beverages will continue to see strong sales as we sail away from the last several years of wild experimentation.  Lastly, beverages will continue to see growth in healthy, clean-label offerings that have risen to the surface through the health concerns of our COVID era.

Like many industries through COVID, beverage and flavor companies adapted quickly to the needs and desires of consumers. Although supply chain issues caused many of us to lose sleep (and hair!), the industry as a whole reacted and rolled with consumers. I suspect that when we look back, we will see that this beverage industry has been changed for the better, while receiving good grades for our rapid changes in consumer demands.  Now, please let us move on.

When you’re ready to talk about your beverage idea, give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or get started with this web form.

 

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Written on August 18, 2021.

How much is a cup of lemonade worth?

While you might be tempted to go by the pricing set by the neighborhood kids and their summer stand, the truth is that lemonade happens to be a much more lucrative business in the commercial beverage world. According to a recent IndustryARC research report, the global market size for lemonade is currently worth a whopping $12 billion, and is projected to continue growth at a CAGR of 6.8% through 2025.

Supported by consumer nostalgia and continued hybridization of beverage categories, brands have gotten a lot more creative with this classic drink over the last few years. That’s right—lemonade isn’t just a combination of lemons, sugar, and water anymore. This childhood favorite has officially grown up.

Here are the 5 biggest trends in lemonade:

1. Classic—But With A Twist…

Sometimes, elevating a classic drink like lemonade only requires swapping out a familiar ingredient to create a fresh take. While the bright flavor of lemon continues to be a staple in the beverage world, consumers are increasingly seeking new citrus profiles and exotic pairings designed to add a little adventure to an otherwise traditional experience.

Substituting lemon with similar exotic profiles like Meyer lemon and yuzu can preserve the appeal of a childhood favorite while catering to a more premium audience. Meanwhile, introducing unique flavors like dragon fruit and prickly pear can complement the sour, bitter profile of the lemon with a subtle sweetness and added complexity.

There is plenty of inspiration to be found across the globe where traditional lemonade takes on many forms. Throughout North America and India, “lemonade” means exactly what you’d expect: a blend of lemon juice, sugar, and water (though the Southern US likes to add basil to the recipe).

Travel to Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan or Brazil and your drink will be served with a flavorful addition of crushed mint leaves. However, if you order a lemonade in England, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand, and you might be in for a bigger surprise. In these countries, “lemonade” refers to a carbonated lemon-lime soda (think Sprite).

The lesson here is that sometimes, sticking with your roots and keeping it simple works best. Spindrift is a great example with a whole brand built on simplicity and quality. Their new line of unsweetened lemonade comes in three flavors—lemon limeade, pink lemonade, and strawberry lemonade—with bubbles to emphasize the drink’s signature freshness.

 

2. Lemonade, Plus Premium Flavor!

We know better than anyone that consumers crave flavor. As the category continues to gain traction, beverage brands are introducing an array of innovative lemonade flavors to delight the tastebuds—and why not? Lemon and sugar tend to pair well with almost anything. Going beyond the staple lemonade flavors of the past, brands are taking the drink to the premium sector with sophisticated new combinations.

A minority-owned brand by teenaged entrepreneur Mikaila Ulmer, Me & The Bees recently launched two new flavors of its flaxseed lemonade at Target and Whole Foods stores around the country: Prickly Pear and Ginger. The flavors, as well as the drink’s organic, clean label formulation have helped dazzle consumers and present a feel-good way to fund organizations working hard to save the bees.

Another wildly successful lemonade brand, Calypso, packages their products in glass bottles and offers nearly 20 flavors in both full sugar and sugar-free versions. Unique flavors include Triple Melon, Cucumber Limeade, and Southern Peach. During the past few years, the brand has expanded internationally and nearly doubled in growth with increased interest in their no sugar options.

Flavor may be king, but texture matters too—and it happens to be a beverage quality that is gaining more attention as of late.

 

3. For Boba Lovers

Boba is a refreshing Taiwanese beverage that features round, chewy balls of tapioca. Also known as bubble tea or milk tea, the drink has quickly become a summer sensation in the US. Even while the industry experiences a shortage of boba balls and the tapioca starch from which they are made, brands are scrambling to deliver consumers their boba fix with lemonade.

Last summer, Del Taco—the nation’s second largest Mexican quick service restaurant—added Sprite Poppers (the lemon-lime soda brand, plus boba balls) to menus for a limited time. In March of this year, they made Poppers permanent, choosing to pair the chewy blueberry and peach-flavored beads with Minute Maid ZeroSugar Lemonade.

Dunkin’ restaurants recently announced their own roll out of “popping bubbles” to their menu. The bubbles, which only come in a strawberry flavor for now, can be added to any iced or frozen Dunkin’ beverage. Thanks to their fruity flavor, they reportedly have been a hit in complementing the chain’s coconut refreshers and lemonade options.

RTD brands have also taken the plunge, churning out novel pre-mixed boba products. Joyba Bubble Tea is an RTD brand featuring two flavors, including a strawberry lemonade green tea with boba, now available at Costco stores nationwide.

The move to pair boba with lemonade not only provides an approachable way for F&B brands to introduce the drink to Western consumers, but also to elevate an otherwise standard experience. This is especially critical as more people develop sensory disorders from chronic COVID. The industry has an opportunity to innovate and create more interesting drinks for sufferers of lost or distorted taste and smell by enhancing beverages with texture.

 

4. Make It Whipped

Boba isn’t the only drink texture consumers seem to be drawn to. TikTok—the app that recently hit a milestone three billion downloads worldwide—can be thanked for giving us the latest trend in lemonade.

Following the hype around the fluffy South Korean dalgona coffee in 2020, TikTok users started experimenting with other forms of whipped drinks, including lemonade. While it is difficult to pinpoint who can be credited for first circulating the viral “creamy lemonade,” there’s no doubt that it has since fascinated consumers who have rushed to try it out.

In an interview with TODAY, user @goldenxclouds said she was first inspired to make a version of the dalgona drink for non-coffee lovers like herself. Using a handheld frother, she combined a packet of pink lemonade-flavored Kool-Aid and heavy whipping cream, using the resulting fluffy mixture as a topping for a regular glass of store-bought lemonade. She described the drink as a “cool sorbet” or “lemonade creamsicle.”

Since then, other variations of the recipe have circulated, though it remains to be seen whether this is an innovation that can be prepared in a ready-to-drink form. A user called @mtlajeunesse shared a version that incorporates ice, whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk, and fresh squeezed lemon juice, blended together to form a creamy, sweet treat. Other takes on the drink use powdered lemonade mixes instead of fresh juice, or add ingredients like egg, coconut milk, fresh fruit, or alcohol—which brings us to our last lemonade concoction.

 

5. Lemonade, But For Adults

When life gives you lemons, add alcohol! Hard lemonade seems to be the next frontier for the hard alternative market. While not new to the beverage alcohol sector, hard lemonade has been getting more attention as big brands seek out additional avenues of differentiation.

A refreshing beverage in its own right, hard lemonade has grown up from the sugary and syrupy concoctions of the past. Modern adaptions of hard lemonade are now much lighter on the palate and waistline, prioritizing flavor and ingredient quality over sweetness.

Big brands like Truly and Bud Light released their collections of hard lemonade and many other beverage companies—big and small—have since followed suit.

The sweet spot in ABV and calories for these products tends to mirror that of hard seltzer, with most hard alternatives clocking in at around 5% ABV and 100 calories per can. Flavors also model many of those popularized by hard seltzer—think black cherry, peach, and mango.

Among the latest ingredient shortages at Starbucks, there’s no doubt that lemonade is trending. As more brands pop up on the market, make sure you’re doing what you can to set your beverage up for success. Like lemonade, the recipe is simple: bold flavors, quality ingredients, a unique twist, and the right beverage development partner.

Have a great idea for a new RTD lemonade? Flavorman’s team of experts can help you bring it to life and change what the world is drinking. Get started by filling out this form or giving us a call at (502) 273-5214.

 

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Written on August 11, 2021.

Take a moment and try to remember everything you threw in the trash this week. Go ahead, try it. Statistics suggest that at least 65 percent of your household’s trash came from packaging. Now factor in your neighbors. Your city. The state. The country.

If you can’t quite do the math on that, don’t worry, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has already done it for you. According to the EPA, Americans produce nearly 80 million tons of waste per year in packaging alone—the equivalent of 200 Empire State Buildings.

When landfilled or incinerated, it becomes pollution, waste that poisons the environment—that’s our air, soil, and water—and poses health risks to both people and wildlife. In fact, packaging waste is the number one contributor to plastic pollution in our oceans; at current rates, it’s projected to exceed the weight of all the fish on our planet by 2050.

Unfortunately, the Food & Beverage (F&B) industry is a big part of the problem—but there’s good news to be found here, too. As some of the largest contributors of packaging waste, F&B brands can play a huge role in making a difference; and truth be told, it’s also our responsibility to try.

The sweeping decision for brands to do away with plastic straws in 2018 was just the beginning. Consumer packaging in the beverage world spans everything from the rings around soda cans and bottles to the containers themselves, their labels and closures, as well as any materials by which they are shipped and stored.

Driven by rising consumer awareness of the impact of product packaging on ongoing environmental issues—like food and material waste, pollution, and climate change—sustainability has become a significant motivator for consumer purchase decisions.

Your beverage’s packaging should not only support your drink and business, but also take care to reduce any negative impact on the environment. Smart packaging decisions require thoughtful consideration of the various elements involved in packaging a beverage product as well as the sustainable alternatives that might be available to you.

Here are 3 approaches to achieving more sustainable drink packaging:

1. Choose the most efficiently recycled packaging materials.

Not all packaging materials are created equally. Take plastic for example. While all plastics are not necessarily recyclable, many utilized in the beverage industry can be. Plastics are assigned across seven categories based on their Resin Identification Codes (RIC), distinguished by the temperature at which the material has been heated. This numerical classification can tell you what type of plastic it is you’re dealing with—and whether it’s recyclable.

PET (or polyethylene terephthalate) bottles are clear, strong, lightweight and 100 percent recyclable plastic; however there is a limit to how many times this material can be recycled before degrading substantially in quality—two-to-three times before, to be specific. This happens because every time PET plastic is recycled, its polymer chain grows shorter, and even then, additional “virgin” material needs to be added to make it durable enough to go back into the market. In other words, “recycled” plastic may not actually be completely re-used material.

This is a big reason why other highly recyclable materials are considered much more sustainable drink packaging options. Glass and metal (usually aluminum) can be recycled indefinitely without sacrificing on quality or durability, and without adding additional virgin material.

Again, there’s always a tradeoff: where plastic is lightweight and durable, glass is heavy and delicate, making shipping a challenge. Cans offer a great balance of desirable qualities for drink packaging and sustainability, but there are ongoing supply chain issues that have (at least for now) made it difficult for beverage companies to obtain them reliably.

2. Dedicate some space on your label to educate your consumers.

At this point you should know that the type of packaging materials you pick does matter. The easiest products to recycle are generally those made from a single, recyclable material; of course, the onus still lies with the consumer to actually choose to recycle the product. This is where investing in consumer awareness and education can make an impact.

Brands can help things along by calling attention to the recyclability of their product’s packaging, and by putting in the extra effort to tell consumers exactly how to do it. In fact, it’s in their best interest to do so. According to Chicago-based Mintel’s Global Packaging Trends 2019 report, it is becoming increasingly common for consumers to request the ability to recycle, and they are interested in understanding how the recycling process really works. This is great news for beverage brands serious about making a positive impact.

The Coca-Cola Co. for example recently introduced the standardized labeling system “How2Recycle” across packaging for its DASANI products. The addition—which has also been utilized by other F&B brands such as Walmart, Target, Nestlé, and General Mills—is designed to both educate and encourage consumers to take advantage of the option to recycle a product’s packaging materials after use.

3. Leverage sustainability in your product’s marketing and/or brand.

Why not make environmentalism a pillar your brand is known for? Companies pairing sustainable drink packaging initiatives with thoughtful consumer education and marketing have found great success in generating meaningful change without sacrificing their bottom line.

Boxed Water Is Better was founded in 2009 with a brand identity completely focused on the company’s commitment to sustainability. As the name suggests, their mission is to offer the most environmentally friendly alternative to plastic water bottles on the market.

Their purified, mineral-free water is packaged in a 100-percent recyclable, almost entirely plant-based carton. The packaging also comprises 75 percent FSC-certified paper and 5 percent aluminum with a protective plastic film lining. Even their closure is plant-based.

Not only has the guilt-free box design allowed them to attract eco-conscious consumers to their brand while substantially reducing their carbon footprint, but it has also made shipping more logistically and financially efficient. For every 26 trucks required to ship plastic water bottles, only a single truck is needed to transport the same number of Boxed Water products. Everyone wins.

Whether you choose to utilize one of these approaches or all three, taking steps to provide more sustainable drink packaging should be a priority for any beverage brand—and it doesn’t have to be a detriment to your business! We hope we’ve shown you that you can change the world and change what the world is drinking.

If you’ve got a great drink idea, Flavorman can help you bring it to life! Get started by filling out this webform or by giving us a call at (502) 273-5214.

 

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Written on July 28, 2021.

From kickstarting the day to pushing through a tough workout, caffeine is a regular part of our diets; in fact, we consume over 100,000 metric tons of it worldwide each year! While it might seem obvious, most of that caffeine comes from drinks—and we are lucky to enjoy more caffeinated beverage options than ever before.

Despite being around for generations, one caffeinated drink in particular has recently been making its way into the spotlight. If you aren’t already familiar with yerba mate, then you’re sure to be hearing more about it soon. Discover the origins behind this ancient superfood, why it’s so unique, and how innovative beverage brands are using it to change what the world is drinking:

Yerba Mate’s Origins

Yerba mate is made from the leaves and twigs of the Ilex paraguariensis plant, a member of the holly family. Native to the subtropical regions of South America, this herbal remedy has been enjoyed by indigenous cultures like the Guaraní for over a millennium.

With the discovery of the New World in 1492, Spanish colonizers in the Parana-Paraguay system learned of the plant and the native’s practice of consuming it. Unlike cacao and coffee, yerba mate was not a domestic plant when first encountered by Europeans; instead, it was harvested traditionally from wild stands.

In an attempt to cultivate the resource, Jesuit missionaries built up plantations in the 1650s-70s. Agricultural efforts were difficult, though they helped to establish a commercial market for yerba mate throughout the rest of the Spanish Americas. Of course, yerba mate wouldn’t make it to Europe until much later, as the continent was already too focused on crops like tea, cacao, and coffee.

By the 1770s, the drink had become largely a niche product and staple of South America where it eventually became a chief export of Paraguay and surrounding countries like Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. It remained the preferred caffeinated beverage of the region even after coffee and tea were introduced.

 

Drinking Yerba Mate

Consumed at all hours of the day, yerba mate continues its reign as a South American favorite prepared and enjoyed the traditional way—among friends and family.

Yerba mate is drunk from a single hollowed out gourd called a “calabash” or “mate.” This vessel comes in all kinds of shapes and styles, and utilizes another instrument called a “bombilla”—essentially a thick, curved straw with a filter at one end. Any authentic yerba mate requires these tools for proper preparation.

First, a kettle of water is heated—but not boiled! While the water is being arranged, the mate or calabash is filled about two-thirds of the way with “yerba” (the herb). Covering the opening of the gourd, it is shaken gently to bring all the larger leaves and stems to the bottom of the container so as not to clog the bombilla later.

The vessel remains tilted to keep all the herbs to one side, then the bombilla is inserted into the mate, still held at an angle. A little cold water should be added to prevent dust from gathering in the bombilla and prepare the yerba for the infusion, preserving any nutrients that might be neutralized by the addition of hot water.

Finally, hot water (less than 150-degrees Fahrenheit) can be added—but not filled to the top! Now it is ready to drink. This is where the ritual part of this process comes in. The same vessel can be refilled nearly 20 times and is meant to be shared. Here are some best practices to follow, courtesy of Francisco Huanaco of Buenos Aires, Argentina:

  • The person preparing the yerba mate is known as the “cebador/a” and should be the only person who pours fresh water between tastings.
  • The cebador/a should drink the first yerba mate poured.
  • The cebador/a should try to avoid dampening all of the leaves with each pour or the drink will lose its flavor too quickly—this is called “lavado.” It is considered disrespectful to pass someone a “mate lavado.” Always pour near the bombilla for the best result.
  • If you are offered the yerba mate, you must drink all of the liquid inside and then pass the vessel once again to the cebador/a. Always return the mate to the cebador/a!
  • It is okay to add sugar for some extra flavor, but gauge the preferences of your group before doing so. A yerba mate without sugar added is called “amargo,” meaning bitter.
  • When you are finished, rinse out the calabash and bombilla with water only, dry with a cloth, and let rest upside down to ensure no water is left inside to mold.

 

From Ancient Drinking Ritual To Trendy Beverage Ingredient

With a bitter, smokey, and woody flavor, yerba mate has a very distinctive taste that, like coffee, can require adjusting to—but the real draw for consumers is the caffeine. That’s right, there’s a reason why some have referred to the drink as a “productivity hack.”

Boasting an allegedly jitter-free buzz, yerba mate contains about 80mg of caffeine per cup. This amount has been described as a happy medium for consumers looking for a boost, as it contains twice as much caffeine as in black tea, but less than half that of a cup of coffee. You could even call it the Goldilocks of caffeinated beverages!

As a bonus, the beverage is also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, as well as beneficial plant compounds like quercetin, theobromine and theophylline. Components of this superfood have been known to reduce risk of cancer and heart disease, decrease the accumulation of fat in the body, and improve blood flow. The health benefits abound.

It helps that the qualities of yerba mate are supported by trends favoring experiential, naturally positioned beverages that deliver on both functionality and flavor. This is a driving force behind why yerba mate has become a beverage favorite in recent months—and beverage developers are finding creative ways to innovate with it. As an energy booster, weight loss supplement, focus aid, and source of digestive support, there are many reasons why beverage developers are exploring the utility of yerba mate as a beverage ingredient.

Dozens of brands have popped up on the shelf and some US consumers have even taken to brewing it up the traditional way at home, as yerba mate leaves are made available at grocery stores across the nation. In recent years, yerba mate has made its way into everything from health elixirs to “clean and natural” energy drinks, even alcoholic seltzer. In May 2021, Coca-Cola’s Honest Tea portfolio rolled out a line of organic yerba mate beverages in three flavors—lemon ginger black tea, strawberry pomegranate matcha, and peach mango green tea.

It’s clear that what was once a niche beverage has officially entered the mainstream. As consumers become more educated about yerba mate, new products containing this special ingredient are sure to emerge. Yours could be next.

Do you have an idea for the next tasty, caffeinated drink? Flavorman can help you make it a reality! Get started by filling out this form or giving us a call at (502) 273-5214.

 

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Written on July 14, 2021.

In 2020, all of us were forced to give up a lot—social experiences, coins, baker’s yeast, even toilet paper. As vaccinations continue to roll out and we begin to feel a little safer again, the bad dream that was the worst of the pandemic is finally starting to fade away. Kind of.

For producers of the world’s beverages, the return of normalcy is taking a bit longer, primarily due to ongoing shortages and supply chain challenges. Cans are one such item that has yet to recover from scarcity, but the truth is that the can crisis has been going on for a while. If that’s news to you, then take a moment to explore the past and present landscape for sourcing cans, how producers and suppliers have been coping, and why COVID-19 has exacerbated the can shortage.

 

From Can Shortage To Can-demic

Let’s be clear about one thing—the raw material for aluminum can production is not in short supply; rather, it’s the capacity to produce the cans that’s lacking. As The Aluminum Association, an industry group representing metal manufacturers, said in a statement, “the aluminum beverage can manufacturing industry has seen unprecedented demand for this environmentally friendly container prior to and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Long before the start of the pandemic, increased demand was a key contributor to the can shortage. There are a few reasons for that. For one, cans have become a favorite among consumers prioritizing convenience. Cans are more portable and easier to store than the bulkier, heavier plastic or glass bottles. Environmental concerns have also helped drive preference for cans as they are a more sustainable and easily recycled option.

Beverage brands are equally enthusiastic about cans which offer a lightweight and reasonably priced packaging solution. Aluminum cans are also great at omitting light (unlike glass and plastic options) and they are effective in keeping out oxygen and maintaining CO2, making them efficient for longer shelf-life applications. It’s not difficult to see why beverage producers of all kinds are vying for them.

With the recent flood of RTD seltzers, cocktails, and the like, competition for cans has heated up faster than manufacturers could adjust to. Naturally, the shortage reached crisis levels in 2020 with the emergence of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

As lockdowns left restaurants and bars shuttered, consumers were forced to give up their usual fountain or tap fix. Instead, consumers turned to packaged drinks they could enjoy at home and beverage brands experienced a 180-degree shift from on-premise to off-premise sales. The demand for packaged goods of all kinds skyrocketed almost overnight, putting a further strain on can manufacturers that has since been slow to recover.

 

A Kick In The Can

So, how have beverage brands been faring? Well, to put it gently—it’s been a real kick in the can.

During the height of the pandemic, lead time for shrink-sleeved cans (where plastic labels are shrink-wrapped onto containers) had grown from 4-5 days to 4-5 weeks while printed cans doubled in price—and that was assuming you could get your hands on any at all.

In response, some of the world’s major producers were forced to rethink their supply chain to make the most of the cans they already had. Some brands made the hard decision to pull certain products to free up those cans for their more popular offerings—but at a cost.

Miller Lite owner Molson Coors Beverage Co. shared that it had lost some market share in the US, partly because it had to suspend production of some canned beers—an increasingly common story among other producers, big and small. In fact, the little guys have been hit particularly hard by ongoing can supply challenges. After pivoting to canning their brews due to a loss in foot traffic, local breweries and other craft producers found themselves competing to get their products packaged and in the hands of consumers.

And it wasn’t just beer brands feeling the heat. In the height of the pandemic, it was reported that Coca-Cola temporarily stopped producing 12-packs of Minute Maid Light Lemonade and other niche products so those cans could be used for their more iconic offers, like Coca-Cola and Sprite. Pepsi also acknowledged making similar choices in their supply chain to mitigate canning challenges.

Other producers with pre-printed cans adapted by affixing new labels or changing their packaging altogether, at least temporarily, to glass or plastic bottles. While the can shortage has eased up slightly since last year, it is by no means behind us. Many of these strategies and more will need to be kept close at hand until a more permanent solution can be established.

 

Adopting A Can-Do Attitude

While can prospects have been grim for a while now, all is not yet lost. Can manufacturers are already well on their way toward implementing a solution for the can crisis. Colorado-based Ball Corp., the world’s largest supplier of beverage cans, currently produces 350 million cans a day from its facilities; now, the company is investing more than $1.5 billion to increase this capacity to meet demand that CEO John Hayes says the industry hasn’t seen since the 1970s.

This investment will help Ball open two new plants in the US by the end of 2021, as well as add two additional production lines to existing US facilities. Another major can supplier, Philadelphia-based Crown Holdings, has followed suit with its own plans to increase capacity.

In the meantime, Ball, Crown Holdings, and others are ramping up production at foreign plants to assist with addressing supply challenges in the North American market. Of course, until these additions are up and running, it will continue to be a challenge for can suppliers to meet demand. Some suggest that, despite the unusual circumstances, maybe this shortage couldn’t have been avoided after all.

As Crown Holdings CEO Timothy Donahue put it, “Even without COVID, I think we would be capacity constrained as an industry. The market was always going to be oversold this year and we were always going to be trying to find cans to serve the US customers.”

So, is there an end in sight for this can-pocalypse? Yes! However, we’ll all need to be patient. In the meantime, beverage brands continue to do their best to find creative, innovative solutions for packaging as they hope for a more stable future for cans—fingers crossed that it comes sooner than 2023.

When you’re ready talk about your beverage idea, give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or get started with this web form.

 

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Written on June 23, 2021.

Yes, you can start your own natural drink company! But before you do, you should make sure you know what that means.

If you’re getting ready to enter today’s food and beverage market, you’re going to have to address natural, organic, and ‘clean label’ trends. There are a lot of heuristics for consumers interested in living a ‘clean label’ lifestyle, such as: “Don’t buy products with more than three ingredients;” “Don’t drink anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce;” and “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t have had in her pantry.”


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Written on June 9, 2021.

Whether you gulp it down by the glass or simply enjoy a splash of it in your breakfast cereal, milk has been a staple in homes around the globe for generations. Now, that seems to be changing. Evidenced by several decades of declining milk sales, consumers seem to be turning their backs on dairy, opting instead for trendy “alternative milk” products made from plants. The latest craze? Oat milk.

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