Our beverage experts formulate dozens of new and innovative drinks for clients every day, making them a valuable resource for the latest flavor trends. That’s why every year, our team gets together to predict the top trends we expect to take over the beverage industry. The forecast for 2020 is shaping up to be focused on the fresh and functional.

Bright & Refreshing

While the “Summer of Seltzer” may be over, the global craze for seltzer and sparkling water is only just beginning. As consumers continue to prioritize flavor over sweetness, “better-for-you” beverages emphasizing bright and refreshing flavors are set to take center stage in 2020.

Botanicals

In the new year, the floral and herbal profiles of botanicals will add fresh, delicate flavor combinations that level up any fizzy drink without leaning too heavily on sugary sweeteners for taste.

Our experts anticipate that the subtly sweet, aromatic flavors offered by basil, cilantro, lavender, and elderflower – as well as the sour, tart flavors of sorrel and orange peel – will be particularly popular in new, sophisticated takes on tonic and seltzer, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

Along this same vein, flavors highlighting wood and pine notes (think fir needle, balsam, or cedar) will add another dimension of freshness and complexity to this refreshing next generation of beverages.

Citrus & Exotics

While the bright, fresh flavors offered by lemon and lime will continue to be a staple in the beverage world, consumers are looking to experiment with new citrus profiles and exotic flavors that offer the perception of sweetness without added sugar, syrups, or artificial sweeteners.

Exotic flavors like dragon fruit, coconut, and prickly pear will also become more commonplace. Like watermelon, they’re set to introduce a fresh, delicate sweetness to any bubbly drink. Meanwhile, citrus flavors like grapefruit, tangerine, blood orange, meyer lemon, and yuzu will offer a subtle sweetness paired with a more interesting sour, bitter profile.

These types of flavors are complementary to the refreshing mouthfeel of seltzer and sparkling water (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and will cater to adventurous consumers looking for new ways to dazzle their taste buds.

Ginger

That’s right, ginger gets its own distinction in our Flavor Trends lineup for 2020. Thanks to its variety of expressions and numerous health benefits, ginger is becoming increasingly popular as a beverage ingredient.

Ranging from hot and spicy, to sweet and warm, ginger maintains a freshness that works well in an assortment of beverage types and flavor combinations. Our beverage experts predict that ginger will likely be used in 2020 as a pairing to brighten up fruit flavors in everything from seltzers to juices, teas, and kombucha.

Beverage Insights for 2020

As consumers become more health-conscious, these flavor trends reflect a market shift towards beverages that maximize on quality and functionality, all while packing a flavor punch.

Less is More

Transparency has, time and time again, proven to be important to consumers. With health and wellness continuing to drive trends as we move into 2020, consumers are looking for drinks that optimize nutritional value and support healthier living.

The “clean label” trend shows us how the quality of ingredients – not quantity – is shaping consumer perceptions of the value of a beverage. It also explains why drinks with simple ingredient statements (like seltzer and sparkling water) are seeing increased popularity.

To this end, 2020 will also see a wider variety of flavorful drinks catering to diets of all kinds. Moving beyond the simplicity of low-calorie, fat-free, and sugar-free drinks, the next generation of drinks will include options that accommodate consumers following alternative diets (keto, vegan, diary-free) who aren’t willing to sacrifice on flavor. Expect innovations on everything from plant-based milks to teas, flavored waters, drinking vinegars, and everything in between.

Functional Plus

If the “sober curious” trend tells us anything, it’s that consumers are becoming more attentive to what they put into their bodies – and they’re also demanding more from what’s deemed “sip worthy.” That’s right, consumers aren’t just looking for a simple caffeine boost anymore: ‘functional plus’ drinks are set to boom in 2020 as consumers look for functionality – and then some!

CBD is the obvious star of this category. Health and wellness trends will continue to support its growth as an ingredient in beverages of all types: CBD coffees, shooters, teas, infused waters – you name it. Even as lawmakers scramble to establish regulatory guidelines, we’re already seeing a spike in CBD beverages and this is likely to continue into the new year.

While they can’t beat the unprecedented rise of CBD, functional ingredients like ashwagandha and dihydromyricetin (DHM) should be on any beverage brand’s radar. Like CBD, ashwagandha offers a range of health benefits, but has thus far been marketed as an ingredient in mood-enhancing beverages (for stress and anxiety). Meanwhile, DHM is an herbal compound and active ingredient extracted from the Japanese Raisin Tree that helps your body metabolize alcohol more efficiently: essentially, it’s a purported hangover cure. Following CBD, 2020 will see more and more drinks of all varieties that boast these functional ingredients.

If your New Year’s resolution is to be healthier, then 2020 is gearing up to be a great year for you. Cheers!

Have a drink idea that you think will dominate 2020? Flavorman can help you bring it to life. Give us a call at (502) 663-8692 or contact our team through this webform.

See how last year’s Flavor Trends compare.

Written on December 4, 2019.