We surveyed food bloggers from across the country and asked them to weigh-in on both food and drink trends they see as important to their audience. As we noted in our food trends report, bloggers are uniquely positioned to understand culinary trends both as home cooks and content creators and they also like to experiment with drinks.
In fact, as influencers, they literally have their hand (or mouse) on the pulse of the everyday consumer, who in many cases makes food and drink choices based on the blogger’s recommendations. As we raise our glasses to the future, we found the results to be an interesting mix of all-natural, premium and artistic flavors.
Mocktail mania, which ranked the highest in emerging drink trends, began to arise last year especially among those Millennials as well as other consumers choosing to drink responsibility and forgo the hangover (nonalcoholic drinkers make up a third of consumers). Bars have begun to recognize an opportunity to serve craft drinks that have all the artistry and flavors of a traditional cocktail. Whether it’s adding a splash of lavender and lemon to Grenadine and bitters or mixing pomegranate and berries to sparkling water, mocktails are becoming cool and imaginative, a mixologist’s dream with the bonus of looking like real cocktails while tasting delicious.
Flavored waters ranked second along with gourmet lemonades and specialty ice teas. According to Restaurant News, lemonade provides fertile ground for experimentation, with the addition of other fruits — berries in particular — and herbs kicking up the flavor a notch. A Datassential BUZZ coffee and tea consumer survey shows that flavored teas index highly in the coveted 18-34 age bracket and this younger audience is seeking a wider variety of flavored ice teas.
Bloggers also noted Butterfly Pea Flower in their comments. Native to Thailand, this flowering plant is most widely used in tea. Bon Appetit praised its color appeal “as like seeing a glow stick turn from a boring translucent-gray tube into a glimmering neon cylinder for the first time. Just add water and it’s a deep midnight-cobalt blue. Squeeze in lemon, and it transforms into a rich violet.” But it’s not just the brightly lit color that makes Butterfly Pea Flower exciting, when steeped it releases antioxidants similar to green tea and it’s also known to help reduce inflammation in the body.
One food blogger noted its extensive use beyond tea, “Butterfly Pea Flower is in everything. It started in teas and cocktails, now it’s moving into desserts like gelato and savory foods like ramen.”
Craft sodas also known as artisanal, specialty or small-batch soda ranked third. While regular sodas have been declining in sales due to negative perceptions of artificial ingredients and health risks. Craft sodas have been on the rise. According to USA Today, craft sodas are capturing share by hyping premium and natural ingredients, creative flavors, limited runs, unusual packaging or their local roots. Using fruits, spices and herbs, craft sodas offer consumers a variety of refreshing flavor combinations from grapefruit, chamomile and cardamom to citrus cucumber and Jasmine tea ginger ale.
In summary, when it comes to drinks consumers (especially Millennials) want an experience from the mocktail to the small batch craft soda and this includes imaginative flavors combined with healthier, natural and fresh ingredients. As MyDrink Beverages, a global consulting firm noted, “There has never been a more exciting time to be in the beverage industry. Innovation is happening across every market segment, and beverages are fitting into more areas of people’s lives than we could have ever imagined.”