Drinks trends for 2020: industry insiders share their predictions
Low alcohol content, CBD products, sustainability and customisation are just some of the trends that appear high on the agenda for the drinks industry in 2020. We’ve asked insiders for their predictions for the year ahead.
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The year of alcohol-free beer
We believe 2020 will be the year alcohol-free beer goes mainstream. Up until now, drinking a low/no [alcohol] beer hasn’t always been fully embraced in the UK. Attitudes towards moderation are changing and increased availability of quality, flavourful beers like Lucky Saint allows consumers to have the same at-home drinking experience without compromising.
Luke Boase, founder of Lucky Saint
Customisation is king
Within the food and drink categories, there's an emerging trend of consumer customisation. We've noticed, particularly with millennials the demand for the ability to customise everything, from dishes ordered at restaurants, to the cocktails ordered at a bar. The same goes for eating and drinking at weddings, parties and private events. Hosts want to be able to give their guests choice and the ability to 'create your own' adds to the theatre of the dining experience.
One particular trend we've noticed at weddings is bespoke G&T stations where we provide the gin, together with a selection of garnishes and tonic waters, so that people can bespoke their gin and tonic, tailored to their personal preference and taste.
Elliot Hughes, partner at Dingle Gin
Beer, but not as you know it
We’ve already seen CBD taking off towards the end of this year, but it’s going to be even bigger in 2020. People are starting to understand what it is and what it can do for them, now there is more information and products coming on the market. Studies have shown CBD has a range of amazing benefits, such as improving your general wellbeing and allowing you to relax, chill out and unwind in the evenings.
We created Hop & Hemp Brewery Co., the UK’s first low alcohol, vegan, CBD beer, so that people could consume CBD whilst enjoying a product they know and love. Plus, they won’t experience any of the adverse effects from alcohol. It’s a premium brew for today’s hectic lifestyles. We’ve already had huge interest in our innovative beer, and it’s only increasing as we head into 2020.
Our beer also has another big trend element in that it’s low-alcohol (0.5%), something Whole Foods have predicted will increase in popularity next year. There’s a range of groups in the UK who are pushing the low/no movement: those trying to drink less, young parents, the health conscious and the largest group, Gen Z, with a third of 18-24 year olds not drinking at all. The need for low/no alcohol products isn’t slowing down.
James Da Silva, spokesperson for Hop & Hemp Brewery Co.
The year of the teetotal
I think we’ll see an increase in the popularity of the non-alcoholic drinks sector. Two in ten of the UK adult population are now teetotal, with two fifths of consumers already drinking no or low-alcohol drinks in pubs, bars and restaurants, rising to over half in 18-34 year olds.
We will see more of what is currently happening right in the core of the trade, with bars and restaurants needing to take their non-alcoholic cocktails just as seriously as their alcoholic cocktails in terms of serves, choice, product selection and knowledge. In terms of how it will affect the sector, I’d say there will be an increase in no and low alcohol products and brands.
Consumers will be guided onto new products to enjoy, seeing a growth in existing non-alcoholic brands, as well as new ones. Consumers will become very educated and aware of what goes into everything they consume, and therefore won’t drink just anything, or buy from brands that they don’t know are sustainable, ethical, or have negative health effects.
Alistair Frost, founder of Pentire
Plant based products change the game
2020 should be an incredibly interesting year for the food and drink sector; consumers’ attitudes are rapidly changing, maybe quicker than ever before, due to how easily information is spread via the internet. I think sustainability will continue to be a main theme throughout 2020 and the subsequent years as consumers vow to only use brands that switch to sustainable packaging. Expect more manufacturers to switch to sustainable packaging formats including cans and biodegradable plastic formats.
As consumers think more about their carbon footprint, many are also turning to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. This has been encouraged by recent documentaries such as The Game Changers and a rise in celebrities outwardly celebrating a vegan life. I believe that throughout 2020 there will be an increased appreciation for plants and plant based diets, as such expect to see an influx of drinks targeted at vegan lifestyles.
Finally, I think there will be a spotlight on functional food and drink, meaning that consumers will be looking for products that have additional functional benefits. A few examples of this include CBD, protein and nootropic products. With attitudes changing with regards to what is being put into our bodies, and as we all adopt a busier lifestyle, having foodstuffs that contribute more so to our overall wellbeing will soar in popularity and importance.
Rafael Rozenson, founder and CEO of Vieve Protein Water
Expect new flavours and more CBD
We’ll see an escalation in sales of organic food and drink from the current 6% growth rate per annum, driven by consumers understanding the profound impact organic farming and choosing organic products can have on climate change.
We also expect continued interest in more novel citrus, with yuzu continuing to star in beverage formulation and other Japanese citrus such as sudachii appearing in premium beverages.
There will be a return of premium RTD tea beverages low in sugar and without fruit flavours, fine tea will come back as the star of this beverage.
CBD has a long way to go and has only just started its retail journey. As soon as the major UK multiples get over concerns around legality and customer perception, this category will explode and lead the charge on a new selection of functional drinks and alcohol-free drinks choices that, in a few years hence, will include THC in beverages as an alternative high to alcohol and the use of ingredients that take influence from micro-dosing and plant-based psychedelics.
In the alcohol sector, expect to see the growth of mead as a re-imagined British fortified beverage, likewise British vermouth. Hedge row and British botanical notes will be prevalent in rectified spirits.
Will Fugard, CEO of Gusto Organic Drinks
Alcohol trends: a restaurant view
I have noticed a shift in our customers’ drinking choices over the past year. Cava and crémant seems to be favoured over the likes of prosecco, however many customers are now starting to recognise English sparkling wines such as Nyetimber.
At the restaurant we have an extensive wine list and over 80 gins, and customers are now asking for their food to be paired with gin rather than wine. They want the botanicals of the gin to complement their food and the tonic it is served with is equally as important.
More and more customers are also asking for dessert wine flights, this works well if they are beginning to experiment with dessert wine as many people tend to shy away from it due to its sweetness.
Overall, I have seen a decrease in alcohol and soft drinks such as Coca-Cola sales. People seem to be trying to drink less alcohol and consume less sugar. The most popular non-alcoholic drink choices are Seedlip (a non-alcoholic gin) and sparkling water.
Jane Gallagher, owner of The Stockbridge Restaurant
Mocktails and Instagram-worthy colours
The last two years have seen a meteoric rise in low and no-alcohol sales and popularity, with users now prioritising aesthetics and flavour over its alcohol content. Because of this, you can expect 2020 will see an explosion of new flavours, particularly options for mocktails and gins. Having unique ways to serve non-alcoholic drinks in your bar is guaranteed to get punters in taking photos and marketing your establishment for you via Instagram, so it’s worth investing in some statement glassware, garnishes, and ingredients to make it happen.
2018 and 2019 saw the rise and dominance of indigo drinks, such as parma violet gins, blackcurrant liqueurs, or various purple garnishes. However, the end of 2019 has seen a change from purple to pink, with pink prosecco, Kopparberg’s pink cider and numerous other tipples opting for a rosy finish. So, keep your eyes open for opportunities to incorporate these into your drinks menu.
Mike Hardman, marketing manager at Alliance Online
Great expectations for English sparkling wine
English sparkling wine continues to grow in popularity both here in the UK and also in our key export markets because the quality of the product shines through every time a bottle is opened and enjoyed. The bumper crops of 2018 and 2019 won’t be hitting the shelves for another few years but this delay between production and potential sales gives us the time to focus on the best markets for our wines.
As more and more new brands hit the UK market it is important to differentiate – at Hattingley, in the winery, we do that by the particular way we actually make the wine in the cellar. Attention to detail at every stage builds on and layers the quality until the finished product is ready for the final consumer.
This attention to detail is followed through to the packaging – it has to attract the consumer to want to try the wine inside the bottle. For us, the new ‘unapologetically British’ focus is a great hit in the export markets where being proud of one’s provenance is positive and not a negative trait. This combination of a great product and great packaging is what marks out the serious commercial producers and ensures that English sparkling wine continues to be perceived as a high quality luxury product deserving of its premium price point.
Emma Rice, head winemaker at Hattingley Valley
Wellness, innovative alcohol and personalisation
We’re seeing a few trends which continue to gain momentum. The first is an ageing population concerned with wellness. We are getting older! And our aging population is increasingly interested in mind and body wellness. So I would expect the low and no [alcohol] trend to continue to grow. It would be interesting to see if we see a slow down in spirits non-alcs as the brands continue to fragment without obvious differential uses or serves.
The second trend we see is hard sparkling water and its alternatives. It will be interesting to see what happens with hard sparkling water which has caused such a phenomenon in the US. They have tapped into an under-served market for women looking for a lightly flavoured, low or no-sugar, refreshing alcoholic beverage. I believe this is a growing space and perhaps will see new brands looking for more natural products with the same benefit.
Another growing trend is personalisation. With the growth in at-home entertaining and personalisation, I would expect to see growth in the ‘hello fresh’ for alcohol - simple, indulgent, personalised cocktail serves which you have for yourself or showcase to your friends. The Drinkworks Home Bar would be the high-end example of this, but I still think there is scope for simple, every day personalisation.
Danielle Bekker, co-founder and director of The Good Living Brew Company
Off-beat flavours are a hit with hipster palates
I think a strong emerging trend for foodies and hipsters in 2020 will be switchels and shrubs, especially used in alcoholic drinks. The rise of kombucha and sour beer in recent years has left the consumer palate far more comfortable with weird, sharp and sour flavours. Combine this with the mainstream rise of gin and drinkers craving something a bit off-beat and botanical will respond well to these tart and spicy offerings. I’ve certainly seen them soar in popularity in the US since maybe 2016 and they’re beginning to pop up more and more in artisanal cocktail bars over here.
For mainstream consumers however, I think alcohol free beer and spirits are the one to watch. Alcohol-free beer sales by volume were up 28% Feb 2019 vs. the same time the year before, with a 407% increase for non-alcoholic spirits in the same period. They are certainly a small slice of sales, but it never pays to ignore a growing market.
Nick Kane, marketing manager at hamper.com
No and low alcohol is here to stay
No and low alcohol (NA) continues to gain market share and win hearts and minds. More craft and multi-national breweries are developing and bringing to market NA versions of their most popular brands - and we'll start to see more penetration of the on-trade market with the bigger pub and bar brands feature a NA option on draught (taking the lead example of M&B Pubs in 2018/19). We'll start to see an increase in NA equivalents for spirits and finally decent wine options.
I also expect to see canned options for all types of alcoholic drink out there and true dominance on the grocery aisle of the pre-mix spirits and cocktails. Canned wine will finally take off and the public perception of cans as a ‘less classy’ option compared to bottles will start to shake partly due to the graphic design and typography on the cans.
Hard seltzer will finally explode here in the UK in 2020. I expect the bigger US brands like White Claw, Truly and Bon & Viv to be launched in early 2020, likely into the multiple grocers in their Q1 range reviews. We’ll also see more ‘hard’ versions of traditional soft options: hard coffee, sodas, juices, tonics - expect to see alcoholic versions of your favourite soft brands!
Russ Clarke, beer and brewery consultant
Opportunities for probiotics
We think gut health and a rising awareness of probiotics will be a growing trend for 2020. People are looking for ways to get effective probiotics into their diets over and above pills and yogurts, and we predict an increasing array of foods and drinks that seek to give consumers this choice. We also see fermented products like kefirs and kombuchas continuing their growth into mainstream consumer consciousness as part of this trend.
Bill Read, co-founder of Genie Drinks
Orange is the new pink
This year we saw a huge spike in coloured gins, with pink variants driving the charge. In fact, the CGA reported that consumers brought the equivalent of £392m worth of pink gin in the 12 months to mid-May 2019. However, while coloured gins are not looking to go away, orange is set to make a splash in 2020. Brands will be moving away from artificially sweetened flavourings, and we’ll see a rise in rich and decadent flavours – this is where orange will really come into its own.
As the spirits industry looks to innovate, we’ve seen examples of brands borrowing from each other and working collaboratively to create something new and exciting. Whether that’s a change in the way the spirit is brewed, swapping a traditional cask for another, or collaborating with another distillery to create a blended flavour. These collaborations are set to continue next year as brands look to create something different. Expect to see more unusual pairings and flavour combinations as brands turn to each other for inspiration.
This year we’ve seen CBD popping up just about everywhere, from the more traditional products like CBD oil and capsules to coffee and sweets. This surge in popularity has not gone unnoticed by the spirits industry. Looking ahead to 2020, we expect to see CBD infused spirits as well as CBD infused soft drinks and mixers.
Changing eating habits have seen traditional cocktail recipes change to accommodate new diets. We’re increasingly seeing non-dairy products being used as veganism sweeps the nation, and people try to reduce their dairy consumption. Next year we anticipate more cocktails will include plant-based alternatives, like aquafaba instead of egg white in pisco sours and oat milk in milk punches, to appeal to this consumer.
James Shelbourne, director and Co-founder of Silent Pool Gin
Provenance is key
The trend for provenance, quality ingredients and as pure a product as possible, has been growing throughout all aspects of the food and drink industry. From gin with botanicals harvested from the English coastline, to ice creams made with real Sicilian lemons, you can see that the consumer is discerning when it comes to choosing their luxury food and drink goods.
As for champagne, provenance is an inarguable and well-publicised element of the product on offer. Here at Vranken-Pommery Monopole we see the next trend to emerge in 2020 as a progression of these ideas – the Brut Nature champagne – zero dosage. ‘Dosage’ is the last step before final corking. This is the addition of a small quantity of ‘liqueur de dosage’ to the wine. A champagne with no added sugar relies totally on the high quality of its grapes, the exceptionality of the terroir and the expertise of the winemaking. Creating a zero dosage champagne is no easy task as the wine must be balanced enough without the added need of sugar.
As consumers look to understand the process behind their products, and search for the highest quality ingredients, the zero-dosage champagne is the most exciting emerging trend in the world of champagne and sparkling wines.
Paul-François Vranken, owner of Vranken-Pommery Monopole
The spritz trend continues
One of the most prevalent trends in the last year is the rise in Italian-style spritz drinks that have surged in popularity amongst consumers. I think the reason for this is twofold:
Firstly, low ABV trends are still a big hit, with drinkers being more conscious than ever about what they are consuming. ‘Apéro’ culture and therefore spritz drinks have been gaining momentum, which St-Germain has been capitalising on. Secondly, drinkers are also looking for alternative drinks to the classic spirit and mixer serves and becoming increasingly adventurous with their choices.
A younger generation of drinkers especially is looking for serves that provide a more interesting flavour profile, such as the elegant taste of elderflower blossoms within St-Germain.
Social media is still shaping beverage trends and influencing how and what we drink. Now more than ever, consumers are after drinks that stand out and spritz style serves lend themselves to this. In fact, recent reports have cited that drinks served in pretty stem glasses proved very Instagrammable, and consumers were keen to share their snaps of the vibrant, colourful cocktails on social media.
Next year will continue to be a very exciting time for liqueurs and cocktail culture and as we move into 2020, it is my belief that the trend for spritz-style drinks will continue to flourish, as more consumers look for versatile drinks that are sophisticated yet simple.
Franck Dedieu, UK brand ambassador for St-Germain