Emerging Trends for the Alcoholic Drink Industry

New products are projected to help push growth 4.09% over the next six years.

July 30, 2019

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—With increased demand for low- and non-alcohol drinks and liqueurs, alcoholic beverages are fighting to remain competitive. But don’t expect bars to shut down any time soon. The global alcoholic beverages market is estimated to grow at a CAGR 4.09% for the next six years, reports Foodbev.com.

Some brands are finding ways to cross their products with others, creating new offerings, and others are rolling out more premium-level beverages to attract those customers looking for not just a drink but an experience. Here are five emerging trends for the beverage industry that will continue into 2020:

  • Fruit-infused beer

Lime isn’t the only fruit that mainstream beer drinkers can enjoy. In fact, fruit beers have always had their own category, though they’ve struggled to gain respect. Fruit can easily mask beer’s more acquired taste, which makes it the perfect ‘crossover’ beverage for consumers hesitant to try beer. Large brewers, such as AB InBev, are adding fruit to their beers. Last year it was Bud Light Orange, and this year it’s Michelob Ultra Infusion, which features a lime and prickly pear flavor combination. Bud Light Lime hit the market in 2008 and has maintained enough momentum to stay in production.

  • RTD

Ready-to-drink cocktails are big, with versions being introduced by both name brands and new providers. Low alcohol, low sugar and natural ingredients appeal to health-conscious consumers, and the price point of RTD cocktails can be half the cost of on-trade servings. Both are important factors when appealing to young shoppers, who are more informed and selective than older generations. That consumer group is also attracted to stylish packaging, convenient portability and the ability to share with friends.

  • Cannabis-infused beer

Cannabis acceptance continues to grow, and manufacturers are introducing the ingredient in foods and beverage products. At the federal level, CBD in food and drink is still illegal. The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act prohibits adding even approved drugs to human or animal food in interstate commerce. But legislation is slowly turning over by state. In Canada, which has legalized marijuana on a federal level, the AB InBev is teaming up with Tilray, a Canadian cannabis producer, to research and invest in cannabis-infused products. For more on navigating the legality of selling CBD beverages, see “Balancing Act” in the July issue of NACS Magazine and “Not So Fast” in the March issue. 

  • Think pink

With 80% of consumers willing to purchase something based on a friend’s recommendation, companies are putting more effort into making their products aesthetically pleasing, especially for sharing on social media. Pink is a subtle color, especially when combined with a mixer, and can convey sweetness with strawberries or tartness with raspberries, giving it variety.

  • Mexican liquors and flavors, mezcal tequila and tres leches

Mexico is having a moment with mezcal, tequila and dessert-flavored liquors. Mezcal, is a tropical agave plant-based liquor with a smoky flavor. Tequila is a mezcal made from the blue agave plant. It is becoming a sipping liquor, and distilleries are creating premium tequilas in small batch bottles. Kahlua is no longer the only Mexican mixer liqueur most people recognize at the liquor store. Bailey’s recently released a tres leches flavor, paying homage to the traditional cake made with three types of milk (regular, condensed and cream). The ancho reyes chile liqueur is made from dried poblano chilis.