Expo West, for me, is one of the events that I look forward to every year. This trade show sets the stage for beverage trends for the entire year. After missing two years in person, I knew this year would not disappoint, and boy was I right. I admit, at first, I was incredibly overwhelmed with being around that many people for the first time in two years. With so many fantastic products to taste and see as well as wonderful humans to meet, I anticipated diving into my surroundings. While working our booth and walking the show, I noticed some memorable themes that I will dive into further detail about; the debuts of tea lattes, pre & probiotic expansion, next level functional beverages, and bold and noteworthy flavors.
Outside of those key themes we also saw many beverages trying to tap into the sober curious trend with non-alcoholic beers and mocktails (if you have not tried Ritual’s Zero-Proof rum, do yourself a favor, and do). I will note that the future remains all things waters… we saw an abundance of all types of waters, combining prebiotics and probiotics, those made with fulvic minerals, made with fruit juice, and of course, plant-based waters. From all of the beverages we tasted, it really seemed brands are pushing the boundaries when it comes to incorporating better-for-you ingredients and their willingness to introduce new flavors.
Tea Latte Debuts
This year I noticed a compelling amount of tea lattes with unique flavor offerings and of course, alternative dairy products. We saw RISE Brewing Co. offer a London Fog Earl Grey Tea, Taika had a Matcha Latte made with macadamia milk, Twirl Milk Tea had a supreme Jasmine and a Hojicha Roasted Green Tea Latte that was to die for, and Joy Milk Tea had an original milk tea. Pictured below, you will see an oat milk honey lavender latte. It is not a tea latte as it is coffee, but I am inspired to share it because of its unique flavor offering. Another tea latte that we saw all over the Expo that is not listed below was the chai latte, which is one of my favorites of all time, as it is finally getting the attention it deserves.
Pre & Probiotic Expansion
Probiotics have made their way into consumers’ diets over the past few years through supplements and beverages like kombucha. However, this year we noticed a shift. Many of the kombuchas featured were in the established food and beverage section and there were more probiotic sodas and waters being highlighted at the hot products exhibit. I feel that consumers understand the need to have probiotics in their diets to maintain a healthy gut but brands are finding new ways to introduce their beverages in a more palatable direction.
One brand we saw get a lot of attention during the expo was Poppi. They offer a prebiotic soda that combines real fruit juice with apple cider vinegar and the product does taste great (above you will see we had the Raspberry Rose and the Orange Soda). Karma offered a probiotic water, we tasted the blueberry lemonade and our team really enjoyed the experience of pushing in the powder and watching it infuse into the beverage. A brand called Mortal Power offers a prebiotic sparkling water with some great flavor combinations (hibiscus ginger, prickly pear, and green tea lime). Another brand, Wildwonder, offers both a prebiotic and probiotic in their sparkling drinks. Last but not least, let’s highlight the mocktail probiotic Doctor D’s showcased, a lime mint mojito!
Flavors for the Non-Believers
With my personal obsession with new and exciting flavors (yes, I am a Flavor Trailblazer) my eye is naturally drawn to the flavors offered at the Expo. Some themes that I experienced at the Expo were new and unique tropicals, bold new global flavors, and spicy flavors.
New Tropicals → Think outside of the classic pineapple, mango, and coconut. We saw appearances of star fruit, passionfruits, and guava as consumers look for flavors to escape in their minds.
Bold new flavors → I noticed a strong association with trying global flavors. We saw a lot of yuzu, some calamansi, cherry blossom from La Croix, and even this sea berry which intrigued me. One flavor that is not pictured below and is not a new flavor at all, but I did notice popping up a lot at the show, was pear (e.g. Rowdy Mermaids Asian Pear Elderflower). This flavor, in my opinion, has been underutilized in the beverage world, and this delicate, crisp, and fresh profile is perfect for a lot of these natural beverages.
Things continue to heat up → From tepache to spicy agua frescas, and warming health shots it seems heat is becoming a little more common in the beverage space. One of my favorite beverages I had at the show was the De La Calle Tepache! This beverage company pushes the boundaries in terms of flavor and they offer a chamoy, a mango chili and a watermelon jalapeno and all were tasty!
Next Level Functional
Yes, immunity reigns on, and energy maintains on fire, but what else did we see at the show that really surprised us? We noticed many of these ingredients highlighted across the board: CBD, L-Theanine, Ashwagandha, Maca and Mushrooms were all the craze! For seeing brands like Celsius and FitAid show success in the supplement facts positioning, I was surprised I didn’t see more of the new brands innovating in this space. I do think there is so much opportunity to continue to win the hearts and minds of consumers through better-for-you botanicals that surprise and delight, with the key focus being the taste has to be there for repeat purchases.
If you didn’t get a chance to taste the two libations that we showcased at the Expo, check out this quick clip of Chuck Wareing, Beverage Senior Scientist, and myself, describing our level up brain water and our green monk mocktail.
If you are interested in learning more about these beverages please reach out to Noam.Marketing@Givaudan.com