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Building a portfolio of better-for-you beverages

What does “healthy” mean to you?

It’s a term that continues to evolve. In fact, according to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating report, 51% of 18-34 year olds say that their definition of healthy food items has changed over the past two years.

For many consumers, the definition of healthy has shifted from meaning simply low calorie/low sugar to foods that have a higher transparency of ingredients. The results from Technomic’s 2017 Away from Home Beverage Shared Interest Study shed light on this evolution, as well as the top attributes associated with healthy beverages.

When asked how well an attribute defines “healthy” beverages, the top three responses were:

  • Provides nutritional benefits (80%)
  • Contains vitamins/nutrients (78%)
  • No artificial ingredients (76%)

These attributes ranked at the top in both the 2016 and 2017 Technomic beverage surveys. Other attributes’ associations with health, however, increased as well. Compared to the same 2015 survey data, the largest changes in the definition of “healthy” revolve around increased emphasis on functional benefits, all-natural ingredients and lower calories.

No matter the exact definition of “healthy,” better-for-you, natural and functional beverages are all fairly popular with the majority of consumers.

Reduced sugar

According to the American Health Association, sugar-sweetened beverages are the biggest source of added sugar in the American diet, with the average American consuming the equivalent of 39 pounds of sugar each year from soda and other sweetened beverages.

Operators looking to meet consumers’ beverage needs—especially operators whose brands emphasizes healthy options—should consider offering alternatives to soda and other sugary drinks.

Coffee and tea without sweeteners, sparkling or flavored waters and lightly-sweetened lemonades are all better-for-you beverages that provide flavor or energy without high sugar content.

Functional benefit beverages

Beverages with functional benefits—coffee, in particular—also align with consumer wishes. A 2017 Datassential BUZZ report on coffee with functional benefits uncovered the following insights:

  • Roughly half of consumers would be interested in coffee with functional benefits, and Millennials, Gen-X and Hispanics are particularly interested in this variation on traditional coffee.
  • The challenge is with awareness — consumers are not familiar with coffee with functional benefits. Only 22% of consumers have ever encountered coffee with additional health benefits. But, with increased familiarity, functional benefit coffee could have an impact on coffee consumption habits.

Taking these considerations and preferences into account, building a portfolio of better-for-you beverage options can lead to better customer experiences and a better return on investment for your operation.

This post is sponsored by S&D Coffee & Tea