True. Liquid trends 2022

Non & low alcoholic - Mindful drinking

In every category within the beverage segment, we see an enormous effort being made by producers to achieve the best possible quality with a fraction of, or no alcohol at all. Consumer demand has been increasing worldwide for several years, but now that the alternatives are getting better, the numbers are growing exponentially. It is therefore not surprising that more and more producers are jumping into this market. Major market leaders in the alcohol sector are increasingly looking at the low & no alcohol market. For example, we see that Diageo bought a majority stake in the first non-alcoholic spirit brand called Seedlip earlier in 2019. They also recently took over full distribution worldwide. In addition, Bacardi- Martini launches the non-alcoholic Martinis so no other big brands are left behind.

The world is changing and he’s doing it at a brisk pace. We have noticed an acceleration after the corona epidemic. We have reached a different relationship with alcohol. Due to the strict measures and multiple lockdowns, we started consuming a lot of alcohol. It’s not surprising that we want to take a different approach on alcoholic beverages after two years of almost chugging it like water. We desperately seek alternatives that contribute to our health.

Don't get us wrong, alcohol is not an enemy when you deal with it in a balanced way. Choosing less, doesn't mean you have to banish it from your life completely. Besides, alcohol is still an important ingredient for some drinks, it intensifies and provides ultimate extraction. Therefore, it has always been an incredible challenge to make non-alcoholic beverages appealing. Complexity and layering were often far from the norm. Fortunately, the practices and production methods in these processes have improved over the years and we can enjoy quality non-alcoholic alternatives more than ever.

Another take on this is, is not to ban alcohol as we just described, but lower it per consumption. That way, you can still enjoy your favorite drink for an entire evening, but it's still possible to get up with a fresh head the day after. Low alcoholic beverages are therefore in our eyes the new alcohol-free. Of course, there will remain a large group of non-alcoholic drinkers who consciously opt for 0.0% when they are in the drivers’ seat for the evening, or who really don't want to indulge in it because of their principles or beliefs. But the ordinary alcohol consumers, who one by one become more conscious and where it becomes socially attractive to drink less, will become the most popular one.

We can tell that Gen Z’ers (born between 1996 - 2015) drink 20% less per capita than Millennials (born between 1980 - 1995), who in turn drink less than Generation X and who in turn drink less than the baby boomers. Generation by Generation, alcohol consumption is dropping, but people will always like to continue socializing with a glass in their hand. The tradition of going to bars and restaurants is about much more than drinking alcohol. It's all about socializing, exploring, making memories & relaxing. And fortunately, this is also perfectly possible with a little less, or no alcohol.
Therefore, it’s extra important for the hospitality sector to shift gears in time. The future will be more about experience and quality. Our world of serving alcohol is more recognizable and therefore perhaps easier. But how can you pay more attention to this? For example, by designing a low & no alcohol drinks menu, focusing on fun serving methods, or looking at how you can get the best quality on the table with an interesting story. For example, transform the farm to table story into production to table. How was it made? why is the product so special? Why would you prefer it to a sparkling water? All those questions should eventually become clear to consumers when they want to spend more money on alcohol low or free options. They want to spend the money, but don't want to feel cheated.

With this said, it's time to act. We are rapidly moving towards a more "sober" world. And the numbers don't lie.

It is estimated that the global non-alcoholic market, which is $923.06 million in 2020, will grow to $1732.7 trillion by 2028, with an annual growth rate of 8.19%
Additionally, the low alcohol market is estimated to reach 889.7 million by 2028 with an annual growth rate of 4.3% growth per year.

A good prospect, and definitely "the" time to jump in.

Functional Drinks

Now there’s more room in terms of alcohol, we will see a new movement happen in soft drinks with a function. We've been familiar with uplifting caffeine drinks for years, but health reasons will also give this market room for fun and healthier alternatives with a function. In short, drinks with a purpose beyond being delicious and healthy.

First, we take a closer look at the growing market for CBD infused drinks. Currenlty it’s a big hit in the USA, UK and of course our neighboring country the Netherlands. But it’s also making its way to the Belgian market. CBD is a non-psychotic cannabinoid extracted from the hemp plant. Unlike getting 'high' from THC, CBD only calms you down and is said to help with anxiety and sleep disorders. It also has other health benefits. It can help with pain and strengthens the immune system.

One CBD brand with a "brand" worthy story is the "Trip".
It was in fact sold in the UK at the royal farm store in Windsor.
It turned out to be a success as the product was sold out in just a small amount of time.
Trip is available in three flavors; Cold brew, peach/ginger & elderflower/mint.
You can get gift boxes and combo packs through their website that include a can of Trip combined with flavor-infused CBD oil.

CBD is legal in almost every country, but as we know, THC is not yet legal in many.
Thus, experiments with THC infused drinks are taking place in countries where it is possible.
By consuming these you can feel a rush/high, just like with alcohol, but with less chance of a hangover. In the USA, where Cannabis has been made legal in some states and also Canada, large multinational brewers, invest in Cannabis producers. Millions have been invested by Molson Coors, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and Constellation Brands in the future of THC drinks.

Recently, a THC infused spirit called ‘Amass Afterdream’, made in Los Angeles, has also been launched. Each serve contains 3.5 mg or psychoactive THC and 3.5 mg of CBD. Along with sorrel, mint, rosemary and sumac, this spirit blends perfectly into spicy cocktails.

Alternative energy

Not having the most productive day at work? Or haven’t slept much last night?
You probably reach out for that cup of coffee that contains a boost of caffeine to get you back up.
The alternatives are often not healthy, and the caffeine overtime is counterproductive.

Alternative and healthier pick-me-ups include Maté tea, Guayusa, guarana, ginseng, and ginger. These products are increasingly seen in soft drinks that sell themselves as Organic energizers. It has a less intense effect and is more likely to perk up the mind, without the physical flare-ups.
We can already find several brands today that capitalize on these trends and the market continues to grow in this regard. Examples are, Gimber (ginger concentrate), Ossa (Tea energizer) & Buddy (Focus drink).

So if you want to relax, you better reach for a CBD drink.
When you need to shoot into action, you can enjoy the alternative energy of the natural energizers.

Pre-batched Cocktails

Due to the pandemic, a lot has changed in terms of our habits and mindsets. Because we were no longer always allowed or dared to go out the door, this has brought about several changes in function of life and the way we consume. We find that home consumption, has been made more fun and attractive by the huge growth of take away and online ordering.

But what about our cocktails? The moment of sitting at the bar with your favorite bartender is of course impossible to bring home, but how nice it would be to still be able to offer roughly the same quality when you have guests over.
Unfortunately, not all of us are trained mixologists and there is often not the ambition to achieve this. As an answer to this problem, there are pre-batched cocktails. These cocktails are often offered by restaurants and bars to still provide their customers with a delicious signature drink, to be consumed with their food or during an apero moment. The ingredients are mixed and bottled by the mixologist beforehand. Afterwards, you can pour them over some ice with one small operation. This is often the best way to obtain quality at home.

The key to success, is making sure your ingredients are of high quality, using alternatives to fresh products and a nice brand identity with a cool story to which the consumer can relate to.
It is also important to get your product to the consumer in terms of marketing and distribution. It can be delicious, but if nobody knows it, it will not last long.

Bacardi-Martini also saw potential in this market. In 2019, they bought the pre batched cocktail company 'Tails'.
Is this a one-hit wonder? Will it survive the pandemic? Of course, we'd all love to get back to enjoying the 'real drink' and being seduced by the bartenders in our hospitality scene. But because we have been able to sample home drinking, this will remain an existing market.
And as like any trend, the strongest companies with quality, will always find a niche.

Collaborations

It's not easy for beverage brands to keep innovating these days. With a huge increase in brands, we see that after launching, it often remains difficult to keep the attention on your product. It is therefore extra important to think outside of the box. Collaboration in multiple industries is the key to gaining attention in other markets. In high positions of companies like LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) important executives from the food industry are moving in. We also see collaborations of spirits with food related professionals. For example, Macallan whiskey released an edition with Pastry Chef, Jordi Rocca of El Celler de can Roca. There was also movement in the music sector. In March 2021 AB-INBEV released a Hard Seltzer with famous rapper Travis scott called Cacti, with great success.

Collaborations should not only come from different brands but can also be done by combining ingredients from different markets. A success story of this concept is the American Screwball. A whiskey liqueur with peanut butter? Yes, peanut butter.
The idea was created by offering a cocktail in their restaurant that contained these flavors.
It was well approved by their guests, and so the idea came to life.
The combo between the sweet and savory flavors was a perfect blend in terms of taste.
A little later, they developed a ready-to-eat product and it can nowadays be found in various catering outlets and retailers like Tesco & Walmart.

Another example is the 'Oreo wine' from Wine giant Barefoot in the USA. They launched the oreo flavoured wine in late December 2021 and it sold out in no time. The wine contains the tasting notes of oreo, making it an ideal pairing with the cookie.

Entering the Metaverse

The Metaverse has been around for years but has recently started to take real shape with parties from 'the real world', think of 'Meta' the new name of Facebook. For those who do not yet know what the Metaverse entails, it includes the entire network of linked virtual 3D spaces in which users, often through avatars, can interact.

Partly due to the rise of cryptocurrency and developments in online financial systems, it is increasingly safe and accessible to participate in the Metaverse. For example, you can buy pieces of land to build your virtual house on, you can buy clothes from famous designers like Louis Vuitton and Burberry. Even big fast fashion houses like the Zara are also jumping on this new movement.

But how do you know if it's real? A digital system has been developed called NFT, these are items that act as a unique and non-exchangeable unit. You can think of it as a coded license as proof of your purchased product.
Through this system, it is possible to design unique pieces and sell/auction them online, which will give it its value and keep it.

Bacardi was one of the pioneers in the beverage industry coming out with their own NFT. They digitized the limited-edition Bacardi Reserva Ocho Sherry Cask Finish that was launched in the fall. Bacardi worked with renowned photographer Cam Kirk to create the NFT. The NFT is displayed online as a work of art showcasing the new cask finish, laced with digital effects and interactive motion graphics.

The future for this world is infinite for our industry. Just think, people are finding their niche in the Metaverse and want to decorate their home or home bar with unique pieces, beverage brands will do their best to contribute to this. In addition, extraordinary homes, community spaces will also be designed, where people can gather to have a virtual pint. These spaces will also have to be shaped and animated by potential operators.

It all seems far away yet, but before you know it, we will be drinking pixels instead of pints and getting online viruses instead of hangovers.

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