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.”


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.


Written on June 2, 2021.

2020 gave us the “summer of seltzer.” Now halfway through the new year, it’s clear that the seltzer craze is here to stay. An already $4 billion industry, hard seltzer is projected to keep on growing at a rapid-fire pace; in fact, experts at Goldman Sachs expect the category to reach a whopping $30 billion in sales by 2025–yep, that’s a lot of White Claw!

Of course, the question remains: as competition heats up and the category continues to evolve, what lies ahead? How will brands stand-out in an already crowded market?

Well, if the explosion of hard seltzer has taught us anything, it’s that there’s a strong demand for “better-for-you,” lower ABV alternatives to traditional beer, wine, and spirits. With hard seltzers now dominating the mainstream, there’s plenty of opportunity for beverage companies to diversify their offers with new and innovative twists on other hard alternatives.

That’s right, hard seltzer might be the star of the show right now, but they make up just one aspect of the hard alternatives market–here’s 5 other segments in the category worth watching:


Written on May 26, 2021.

A traditional American staple, dairy milk is facing a new challenge: plant milk. That’s right, the once niche category has officially made its way into the mainstream. Driven by health trends and consumer concern for the dairy industry’s effect on climate change, animal welfare, and ethical food production, there are now more reasons than ever for consumers to turn their backs on dairy–but the industry is fighting back. Before you pick your own side in the debate, read this:


Written on March 17, 2021.

Whether you’re a hardworking college student, busy professional, or just someone looking for an edge, nootropic beverages offer an attractive promise–a brain boost.

As consumers continue to demand more functionality from their favorite drinks, brands are taking note. Driven by health trends prioritizing all aspects wellness–including mood, cognitive performance, and mental health–brands are exploring creative beverage solutions with benefits that extend beyond those important to physical fitness.

While still a fairly new category, nootropic beverages are emerging as an exciting frontier in the functional beverage realm–and one that is expected to reach more than $7 billion in value by 2025. But what exactly are nootropics? Here’s what you need to know:

Nootropics: What Are They?

While you may have only just started paying attention to the term recently, as a class of ingredients, nootropics are not new–in fact, the term was coined by Romanian psychologist and chemist, Corneliu E. Giurgea, who in 1972 used it as a “catch-all” to describe brain productivity enhancers.

Today we understand nootropics in much the same way; as substances thought to be linked to improved performance. Nootropic ingredients are used to enhance focus and memory, boost energy, and even elevate mood. Historically, nootropics have been primarily utilized in the development of drugs and health supplements, not beverages–but that seems to be changing.

Nootropics & The Beverage Industry

It’s important to note that some nootropic ingredients are already well-known and widely adopted in the beverage space–and have been for years! L-theanine, for example, is a compound naturally derived from tea that improves retention, recall, relaxation, and mood. Or perhaps you’ll recognize caffeine and its nootropic effects–focus and alertness–more immediately.

Of course, other nootropic ingredients have been slower to trickle into the sector and they’re why consumers have taken notice of the category, overall. Medicinal mushrooms (like reishi, chaga, and Lion’s Mane) are great illustrations of emerging ingredients that are making their way into a variety of drinks, thanks to a variety of adaptogens and antioxidants providing a powerhouse of cognitive and mental wellness benefits.

Building from the “Functional Plus” trend, a growing subculture of consumers have been experimenting with combinations of different nootropic ingredients–called “stacks”–which are believed to deliver a variety of benefits when paired. Supported by consumers’ continued interest in custom beverages and personalized nutrition, this may signal an opportunity for producers to create specialized blends of nootropic drinks that cater to this emerging market.

Developing a Nootropic Beverage

As the functional sector of the beverage industry continues rapid-fire growth, nootropics are being added to beverages of all kinds. From chocolate milk “elixirs” supporting immunity and “balance” to energy drinks designed to promote focus and alertness without the jittery side effects–the possibilities are endless, though not seamless. Here’s what we mean:

Whenever functional claims are involved, the regulatory landscape can be a challenge to navigate. If you’re interested in bringing your own nootropic drink to market, you’ll need to make sure it is formulated for success and labeled appropriately.

“Beverages cannot make health claims, so the marketing language you might use on a so-called ‘nootropic beverage’ is pretty limited,” says Flavorman’s Director Beverage Architect, Kristen Wemer. “Many of the claims associated with nootropics can be construed as health or structure-function claims, which we would advise against putting on a beverage.”

Of course, you can still make a beverage with ingredients that imply or are known by consumers to offer nootropic benefits–that’s often how brands accomplish this without making claims.

A beverage you might drink to relax could include lavender, passionflower, GABA, and lemon balm. Each of these ingredients are GRAS and allowed in a beverage, and you can highlight that the beverage contains them with hopes that a consumer will understand what they’re in there for–but the more explicit you get about the potential functionality of those ingredients, the higher risk there is that it will be construed as a health or structure-function claim.

As brands continue to pack their drinks full of functional ingredients, beverage builders have their work cut out for them to ensure these beverages can also achieve a desired mouthfeel and flavor profile while delivering on anticipated benefits.

“The functional beverage category has become increasingly complex over the last several years,” says Wemer. “Beverage developers are being asked to formulate drinks loaded with beneficial ingredients, each of which come with their own set of formulation challenges.”

“At Flavorman, we custom create our clients’ beverages, including each flavor that goes into their drink,” says Flavorman’s Chief Flavorist, Tom Gibson. “As a flavorist, I work alongside the beverage development team to create flavors that taste great while being compatible with trending ingredients.”

Our experts can formulate your nootropic beverage with flavors that emphasize the presence of any functional ingredients, while ensuring the integrity of the drink’s quality. And while our expertise is specialized in beverage development, our team boasts the resources, services, and industry connections you’ll need to make your nootropic beverage idea a success. From start through finish®, that’s the Flavorman promise.

If you’re going to launch a beverage brand, make sure you do it right the first time. When you’re ready to talk about your idea for a breakthrough nootropic beverage, give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or get started by telling us your story here.

To learn more about how Flavorman can help you change what the world is drinking, see our process.



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Written on March 3, 2021.

Health and wellness have always been important to consumers, but in the face of the current outbreak, that’s truer now than ever before. As the world grapples with a global pandemic, consumers have found ways to take their health into their own hands–and stomachs.

Written on January 6, 2021.

One of history’s most popular beverages is also one of the healthiest drinks that consumers enjoy today– yep, we’re talking tea! Thanks to its functionality and diversity of flavors, there’s a style to satisfy any palate. That’s also why tea has remained the world’s second most widely consumed beverage, eclipsed only by water. If you’ve never given much thought to the history or production methods behind the brew in your cup, don’t stress (though if you do, there’s a tea for that!) Instead, ease your mind with this brief background on two of the most consumed tea types– green and black tea. Grab your favorite mug and settle in.

Written on December 8, 2020.

Our beverage experts formulate dozens of new and innovative drinks for clients every day, making them a valuable resource on the latest flavor trends. After a particularly turbulent year, our team got together to share their insights on the top flavors we expect to take over the beverage industry in the New Year.

Driven by the long-term effects of an on-going pandemic, this year’s forecast is shaping up to be focused on creating experiences in a socially distant landscape. Here are the 2021 flavor trends to watch out for:

Written on October 21, 2020.

Combining coffee and alcohol isn’t new– Irish coffee, White Russians, espresso martinis, and other cocktails dripping in coffee liqueur have long laid the groundwork for the innovation we’re experiencing today. Craft brewers have also played a significant role, using coffee beans to create roasted, nutty, and chocolatey flavors in porters and stouts. Ready-to-drink (RTD) hard coffee is just the next evolutionary take on the pairing.