Beverage trends: healthy, flavorful, and a touch of sustainability

More and more people are choosing to consume plant-based products. This trend addresses two of today's major consumer concerns: health and sustainability. Even so, taste is playing a big role and, therefore, producers of juices, concentrates, dairy and plant-based beverages are trying to innovate to achieve products with innovative flavors that are both sustainable and healthy.

In this article, we present the different insights that are gaining traction in the beverage sector. We will focus on the sustainability, taste and functional benefits that more and more products in the sector offer, from dairy beverages and juices to plant-based and fermented beverages.



Juices and concentrates are transforming to meet new consumer demands. The challenge for brands lies in delivering functional benefits to help them energize, focus and relax.

At the same time, these products are also considered a pleasure and a form of entertainment, which allows brands to work on offering a healthy, pleasurable and satisfying product.


Consumers are showing an increasing interest in less sweet flavors due to the role of sugar in health, which is leading to an increase in demand for lower sweetness profiles, mainly in the juice category.

Juice brands need to address consumer concerns about sugar content, as the absence of added sugars is a sought-after feature after taste. In addition, there is considerable interest in sophisticated soft drinks aimed specifically at adults.

In a context where health concerns are on the rise, maintaining long-term relevance and corporate image in the juice and concentrate category requires sugar reduction strategies. Brands have responded to this pressure by reducing the sugar content in new products, and in Europe, it is increasingly common to find "no sugar added" claims on beverage concentrate launches, adapting to market demands.

Source: Mintel GNPD, February 2018 - January 2023.


Consumers' growing interest in healthy diets and their inclination toward nutritious foods and beverages is also impacting juice consumption, as they choose it as a way to increase their vitamin intake. Consequently, brands are under pressure to formulate healthier recipes, especially through vitamin and mineral fortification, which guides their innovation strategies.

During the 12 months leading up to January 2023, there has been a notable increase in beverage launches that include vitamin and mineral fortification claims, as well as those highlighting their natural vitamin content. This increase is mainly due to the growth of these claims in the fruit-flavored still beverage subcategory (Mintel GNPD 2023).


According to Mintel, fruits and vegetables are the most dominant flavor profiles among juice launches in Europe. Also, orange, apple and mixed fruit flavors continue to be the most popular flavors for juices.

Source: Mintel GNPD, February 2018 - January 2023.

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Trends in dairy beverages include sustainability, functional benefits, health and wellness concerns, and transparency in production and ingredients.


The way people manage their resources is changing, influenced by the climate crisis and the desire for a more sustainable lifestyle. The most notable consequence of these changes is the increase in demand for dairy-free milk alternatives, as consumers question the environmental impact caused by dairy-free products.

The growing demand for sustainability is also impacting this sector. The public expects dairy producers to be more transparent in their ethical credentials and commitments, associating this transparency with value for money that is leading to a re-evaluation of traditional dairy-based milk.

According to Mintel, in the last 12 months, new launches have focused on sustainability, organic production and animal welfare.


In the coming years, nutrition will increasingly be used as a way to support cognitive care, helping consumers cope with stress and anxiety, which represents an opportunity for brands.

According to Mintel, consumers' stress levels are increasing due to new lifestyles. As a result, there is a growing demand for foods and beverages that improve mental well-being.

The increase in launches of beverages fortified with vitamins and minerals, as well as those that highlight their natural vitamin content, has boosted the popularity of probiotic foods such as kimchi and kombucha. In addition, it has also affected innovation in dairy beverages, especially in the leadership of functional yogurts that promote digestive health. Brands are making links between probiotics and benefits for digestion and immunity, leveraging knowledge about the gut microbiome.

Source: Mintel GNPD, March 2019 - February 2023.

Cow's milk is the most widely consumed milk and, in turn, is perceived by consumers as inherently nutritious. According to Mintel, this type of milk outperforms all non-dairy based beverages in qualities that influence the purchase decision, such as taste and nutrition. Given this reality, many producers fortify non-dairy beverages with added nutrients.


In the dairy beverages sector, yogurts remain the epicenter of innovation. Consumers are showing strong interest in seasonal flavors as well as limited editions that incorporate fresh, seasonal ingredients. In addition, in milk varieties, innovative flavors such as blueberry and lavender are coming to the fore.

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In the twelve months to March 2023, vegetable beverages had a greater market presence compared to other products in the milk and vegetable beverage category.

Today, while traditional milk remains the most widely consumed, plant-based beverage launches continue to outpace dairy milk launches driven by the need to address consumer needs and concerns regarding taste.

The main trends in this category are functional and healthy, sustainable and flavor-enhancing ingredients.


Vegetable beverage producers are focusing on offering healthier and more functional options, driven by health and wellness awareness. This is reflected in the addition of nutritious and beneficial ingredients such as proteins, vegetables, vitamins and minerals to some products, providing added value in nutrition and wellness.

According to Mintel, plant-based beverage launches with high protein content claims experienced an increase in new launches in the year to March 2023.

Source: Mintel GNPD, April 2019 - March 2023.


Consumers are increasingly interested in reducing their environmental impact and are looking for alternatives to conventional dairy products. As a result, producers are using more sustainable ingredients and production processes such as eco-friendly packaging.

Although cow's milk stands out for its taste, price and versatility, more and more people are recognizing the negative impact of the dairy industry on the environment, increasing the demand for plant-based alternatives. Despite this, many consumers doubt the real impact of this change, so it is important that producers of plant-based beverages provide educational, credible and verifiable information about the environmental benefits of their products.


Vegetable beverage producers are focusing on innovating and customizing their flavors, seeking to broaden their audience and overcome the taste barrier. This means improving the quality of these products and offering a wider variety of attractive options, tailored to individual consumer preferences.

In Europe, producers are experimenting with various base ingredients such as oats to improve the taste of vegetable beverages, while other ingredients such as almonds are losing popularity. On the other hand, neutral flavors continue to see the most launches in plant-based beverages.

Source: Mintel GNPD, April 2019 - March 2023.

Almond milk has been a popular choice among Americans as an alternative to dairy milk, due to its taste and the health benefits associated with this ingredient. However, in plant-based beverage launches in North America, the proportion of launches that include almond is declining, while those that include oatmeal are on the rise.

This may be related to growers' response to concerns about water-intensive almond cultivation versus lower water requirements in oat production.

Source: Mintel GNPD, April 2019 - March 2023.

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Non-lo beverages", "non-alcoholic beverages" or "alternatives to alcohol" are those that seek to offer a similar experience to alcoholic beverages, but without containing this component. The objective of these beverages is to satisfy the needs of those who abstain from alcohol consumption and to offer a refreshing and tasty alternative for those who just want to socialize or enjoy a drink.

These beverages can include a wide variety of options such as soft drinks, flavored water, herbal teas, energy drinks, non-alcoholic beers, non-alcoholic cocktails and many more.

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