For years, frozen beverages have been thought of as strictly “kid stuff”: slushy-style drinks in bright colors and sweet, fruity flavors that appealed mainly to the younger set. But savvy operators know that frozen beverages today appeal to a much broader audience and, more importantly, can make an important contribution to their bottom line without adding a lot of labor.
Recent research from The NPD Group predicts 15 percent growth for frozen beverages, such as frozen mocha and smoothies, in the lunch daypart category in 2016. And that same research shows that frozen beverages will also power the afternoon snack daypart in 2016: 36 percent of these beverages will be consumed after 1:00 p.m., with an increase of up to 14 percent in consumption over the coming year.
Part of what’s driving this across-the-board appeal is the multiplicity of flavors and ingredients being used to create delicious new frozen beverages. Variations on mocha and coffee flavors have skyrocketed in popularity and moved the drinks from coffee bars into fast-casual restaurants and QSRs. And ingredients with a healthy halo—such as açaí berries, chia seeds and whey protein—have left the juice bar at the gym and are now mainstream.
What all this means is that the seasonality once assigned to frozen beverages is no more. Bob Pierce, senior vice president, North America sales and global accounts, Bunn-O-Matic Corporation, likens it to how iced tea and lemonade were thought of 20 years ago. “They were thought of as ‘seasonal-only’ beverages; they come out after Memorial Day, get hidden after Labor Day,” says Pierce. “Now, it doesn’t matter what type of establishment you go into—you’ll always find iced tea and usually lemonade on the menu. It’s the same thing with frozen beverages. You’re seeing them as more of a year-round thing.”
Somewhat surprisingly, Pierce also says that some of the highest consumption of frozen beverages year-round is in the northern portion of the United States.
These drinks are also moving into new segments of the market, such as fast casual, college/university and healthcare. Pierce notes an increase in frozen beverages in globally focused concepts, such as horchata in a Southwestern or Mexican-style restaurant. And restaurants that want to increase their nonalcoholic offerings are finding that frozen mocktails, such as alcohol-free margaritas or daiquiris, are a good choice for customers who want to refrain from drinking.
And for operators, serving these types of beverages is easy, especially with equipment innovation such as the liquid auto-fill function found on BUNN® Ultra™ machines. As product is dispensed, more product is fed into the hopper to maintain beverage integrity. That’s just one of the features of the dependable BUNN Ultra, which is designed and assembled in the U.S.A. Its patented drive system allows for more uptime for the operator; a reverse auguring system keeps the beverage evenly dispersed throughout the hopper, thus delivering a consistent product. The machine can be programmed to automatically defrost and restart based on store needs.
Get the full story on BUNN Ultra frozen beverage machines at www.bunn.com/frozen-beverages.
This post is sponsored by BUNN