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Five Top Trends for the Alcoholic Beverage Industry

  •   7 Aug 2019
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With the explosive rise in low to non-alcohol drinks and liqueurs on the market this year, alcoholic beverages are having to find a way to stay relevant. Though many people are choosing to cut back or cut out alcohol altogether, bars won’t be shutting up shop just yet. The global alcoholic beverages market is estimated to grow at a CAGR 4.09% for the next 6 years according to a report released by WiseGuyReports.

Many brands are finding a way to cross their product with another and create a new offering in their category. They are also releasing more premium level products to attract customers looking for not just a drink but an experience, making the choice of an ABV more worthwhile. Consumers are demanding more from their beverages and brands are rising to the challenge.

Let's look at these five emerging alcoholic trends that will likely continue into 2020.

Fruit-infused beer

Lime is no longer the only fruit that is acceptable to mainstream beer drinkers. Fruit beers have always had their own category in the beer world but have struggled to gain respect as “real beers”.

Brands such as Jubel Beer, who were finalists in the WBIA for 2018, debuted as a peach-flavoured infused beer in 2017 to mimic Demi Peche from the Alps, and recently released an elderflower flavour last month.
Fruit makes it easy to mask beer’s more acquired taste creating the perfect ‘crossover’ beer for people who are reluctant to try it. So much so that larger brewers such as AB InBev are incorporating fruit into their beers, with flavours such as last year’s Bud Light Orange and 2019’s new Michelob Ultra Infusion range featuring a lime and prickly pear flavour combination. Bud Light Lime hit the market in 2008 and has maintained enough momentum to stay in production.

New exotic flavours such as Yuzu and Acai could be brewing up soon as well.


Ready to Drink cocktails have exploded on the scene recently and new versions are being released by established and newcomer brands alike. Recent figures from CGA value the total of RTD sales in the UK last year at £472m, while Mintel predicted a 9% rise in RTD cocktail sales by volume over a five-year period starting in 2016.

Low alcohol, low sugar and natural ingredients are appealing to the health-conscious consumer, whereas the price point of RTD cocktails can be half the cost of on-trade servings. Both are important factors when appealing to the target audience of 18 – 24-year-olds, who are more informed and selective than previous generations.  They are attracted to stylish packaging, the portability of the product and the ability to share with friends, whether in person or on social media and competition for their attention is fierce.

Established brands such as MillerCoors and Kopparberg are creating their own line of RTD as a brand extension to capitalise on the trend.. The majority of RTD cocktails come in a can which combines convenience and lifestyle; they don’t break or shatter like glass, are allowed poolside in most places, plus are virtually spill-proof and are easily recyclable.

This category will continue to grow, especially with premium brands entering the mix.

Cannabis-infused beer

As cannabis acceptance and consumption grows, manufacturers are debuting the ingredient in their food and beverage products. Legislation is slowly turning over by country and per state in the USA. As cannabis as an ingredient is gaining exposure and understanding, clearer legislation should soon follow.

Let’s define the two things in cannabis that are currently being used in food and drink industry and the differences between them.  The cannabis plant produces chemicals known as cannabinoids, one of which is cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD is non-psychoactive and is currently gaining recognition for its potential health benefits around reducing symptoms of anxiety, insomnia and seizures caused by epilepsy.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), on the other hand, is the psychoactive component in cannabis that makes users feel “high”.  It’s currently illegal to combine THC and alcohol in a single product so when it is used,  it is being infused into non-alcoholic (0% )beers, such as Coastal Haze launched by San Diego-based High Style Brewing Company.

CBD is legal to use in a range of products though its worth noting the potency stated, as some smaller doses seem to have a negligible effect.  In Canada, which recently legalised marijuana on a federal level, the worlds’ largest brewing company AB InBev is teaming up with Canadian cannabis producer Tilray to research and invest in cannabis-infused products. Cannabis is certainly creating a new category in the health and wellness market.

Think Pink – Bright drinks appeal for the (Insta)gram

When it comes to food and drinks, presentation is everything. With 80% of consumers willing to purchase something based on a friend’s suggestion, companies are putting more effort into making their products aesthetically-pleasing, especially for social media sharing.

However, Will Holt, co-founder of Pinkster, a gin made with raspberries, says “ We’ve long encouraged people to focus on the flavour and the colour. Drink pink because it tastes good, not just because it looks Instagrammable in the glass.”

So why pink instead of green or blue? Pink is subtle, especially when combined with a mixer, and can convey sweetness with strawberries or tartness with raspberries, giving it variety.  It can be deemed to appear more sophisticated and premium than say, a blue hued drink which may be associated with overly-sweet flavours aimed at a younger market.

It can also have shelf-appeal and consumers are naturally drawn to it. Another reason that flavoured gins have gained momentum in the past couple of years is that they appeal to people who normally wouldn’t choose gin, allowing them to experience it alongside a familiar flavour. From pink Mermaid gins, to rose variants in ciders,  to pink coconut waters, this hue is the unofficial colour of 2019 with no signs of fading away just yet.

Mexican liquors and flavours, Mezcal Tequila and Tres Leches

Mexico is having a moment with Mezcal, Tequila and inspiring dessert-flavoured liquors.  Mezcal, a tropical agave plant-based liquor that touts a smoky flavour, is gaining on-trade appreciation with bartenders from LA to NYC, who see its potential in offering something different to their cocktails.

Tequila, which is a Mezcal made from the Blue Agave plant specifically, is becoming a liquor to sip instead of slam with distilleries creating premium and ultra-premium small batch bottles appealing to drinkers who don’t mind paying for top quality.

Kahlua is no longer the only Mexican mixer liqueur you might recognise on the shelves behind the bars or at the supermarket. Bailey’s recently released a Tres Leches flavour, paying homage to the traditional cake made with 3 types of milk (regular, condensed and cream), whilst those who would like a bit of heat to sip on can find this in Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur, made from dried poblano chilis.


  • This article is originally posted by FOODBEV MEDIA, written by Megan Kindelin.
  • The above is the author's personal opinion and is not the opinion or policy of ChemLinked.

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Megan Kindelin

FoodBev Media provides practical insights that empower, educate and provide direction to food and beverage industry decision-makers.