A quick stroll through the refrigerated section at the grocery store and a few things are clear.
- There are a lot of beverage options out there.
- They aren’t all soft drinks.
- Innovation is happening in the beverage sector.
Retail beverage sales are growing at an impressive pace with plant-based, non-coffee refreshments and energy drinks taking market share from the more traditional categories, while soft drink sales continue to, well… soften*.
Zoomers and Millennials drive change
These changes in the beverage aisle are being driven by Millennial and Gen Z consumers. They have a lot of buying power, and they aren’t using it the same way older consumers have. Just ask the culinary directors at colleges and universities around the country. They know as well as anyone that their Millennial/Gen Z students want more than the same old thing.
It’s their tastes and preferences that are pushing the innovation limits of food and beverage companies. They want lower sugar and real ingredients. They want inspired flavors that will complement the wide variety of cuisines they are eager to sample.
Retail brands have kept up with this demand for better-for-you, functional beverages, coming up with innovative ways to quench our thirst. Meanwhile, foodservice options are lagging behind. Function simply hasn’t been on the menu.
Foodservice lags behind retail
A majority of foodservice operators– especially the more established brands– are still offering carbonated soft drinks, and perhaps lemonade and tea. With some exceptions, that’s where it ends; foodservice operators have held off on adopting new beverage offerings for which modern consumers are clearly thirsty.
According to Euromonitor, the US functional beverage market of over $48 billion is expected to grow 6.6% through 2025. It’s time for foodservice operators to enjoy a piece of that pie.
Look up and down the menus of emerging fast casual and coffee operators where these younger demographic groups spend the majority of their foodservice dollars. You’re beginning to see additional no- or low-caffeine cold refreshment options with more complex flavors than the traditional one-note offering — as well as no or low-sugar options. And more and more, you’re seeing functional attributes that aid in immunity support, gut health, hydration, energy, and mood boosts in today’s most popular beverages.
The transition to digital ordering has also played a big role in the rise in popularity of ‘better for you’ beverages. As greater numbers of consumers visit operator websites and apps to place their orders more conveniently, they are able to more thoughtfully explore the operator’s menu and beverage offering.
Information is power
And, just as more consumers are “reading the labels” at their local grocery stores, they are doing the same online. They are a click and scroll away (or a Google search if necessary) from seeing the nutrition facts panels and ingredient statements. Descriptions that incorporate words like “fresh”, “real” and “natural” carry more weight than ever, and it’s no wonder that menu offerings across both food and beverage that convey these attributes are winning in sales.
As an operator, it is crucial that your beverage program aligns with what these consumers are demanding– no matter what kind of facility you’re running. If it doesn’t, you’re missing out on a lot of revenue.
We know that there is a gap in foodservice that creates an unmet need state for many consumers, especially among Millennials and Gen Z. These eager and influential purchasers are being left without a beverage option that meets their desired purchase intent — and leaving operators without a sale.
Function is now on the menu
That’s why we created All Friends Beverage Infusions. It helps operators grow a beverage program that complements the bold food choice we now see on menu boards around the country. It helps operators capture dollars that would not otherwise have been spent, breathing new life into beverage programs.
All Friends Beverage Infusions are the cold refreshment option operators can count on for delicious, high quality, and all-natural beverages with exciting flavors that support immunity, boost natural energy, and increase hydration.
Made with real fruit juice, way less sugar than your typical soft drink, no artificial ingredients or preservatives, and packed in plant-based packaging, we’re supporting a more delicious option for the balanced lifestyle consumers are aspiring to lead. And because of their operational efficiency, All Friends offers both ease of use and flexible LTO opportunities.
It’s time to make sure your beverage program is delivering what consumers really want. Discover how All Friends Beverage Infusions can fortify your beverage program, help drive profits and give today’s consumer the ‘better for you’ beverage they crave.