By Lauren Trieschmann
As we enter the new year, we’ve seen an influx of new (and in some cases, re-emerging) beverage trends and insights as shared by some of the most trusted voices in the industry. Below, we’ve outlined a few to keep a close eye on in 2022.
A Renewed Interest in Buying Local
Large, nationally distributed brands saw a surge in sales during the earlier stages of the pandemic, with consumers unable to explore local products at bottle shops, taprooms, and bars that were deemed non-essential businesses. But according to Drizly’s recent BevAlc Insights report, customers are showing a renewed interest in supporting local producers in 2022, particularly in the beer category.
While shopping close to home positively impacts local economies, some might say that this trend is largely attributed to the ongoing supply chain crisis, which has famously impacted wine and spirit distribution and pricing in recent months.
The Evolution of RTDs
By now, many of us are familiar with the ever-evolving world of ready to drink (RTD) alcoholic beverages. The category has grown so rapidly that it’s now larger than the spirits category in the U.S. and is on track to surpass wine. With this fast-paced growth, however, we’ve seen a shift in the specific types of RTD products that resonate with today’s consumers.
Once-popular hard seltzers saw a decline from 2020 to 2021 as new options hit the market, with notable brands such as Coors Light and Cacti discontinuing production of their hard seltzers. RTD beverages that appear to be on the upswing include canned and boxed cocktails, hard teas and kombuchas, and hard seltzer “smoothies.”
For years, studies have suggested that enjoying an occasional glass of red wine can provide health benefits while protecting against heart disease, inflammation, and other ailments. As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, many consumers have a heightened awareness of the health benefits (or lack thereof) of food and drink products they are purchasing, and it appears that wine is no exception.
Head to your local supermarket or wine and spirit warehouse store and chances are you’ll encounter a section in the wine aisle displaying low-calorie and low or no-sugar wines. The “wellness” wine trend also extends to the vineyards, where wineries are producing more organic, biodynamic, and sustainably farmed wines than ever. According to the International Wines and Spirits Record (IWSR), organic wines are expected to see the largest growth of any wine sub-category by the end of 2022.
In addition to an increased demand for “better for you” beverages, consumers are showing a heightened interest in sustainable and recyclable packaging – in fact, 73% of consumers polled for a 2021 survey said they would be willing to pay more for sustainable packaging. Between the use of finite resources required for production (namely silica sand sourced from the ocean) and CO2 emissions resulting from production and transportation, glass bottles are becoming a less favorable option for sustainability-minded producers and consumers.
As a more sustainable alternative, British packaging company Garçon Wines recently introduced a recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle that is 87% lighter than glass and has a distinctive flat shape that allows roughly 91% more product to fit on a shipping pallet. Established industry leaders are also taking note, with Bacardi vowing to become 100% plastic-free by 2030. In 2023 the brand plans to debut a bottle made from palm and canola oils and soy seeds, which Bacardi claims can biodegrade in just 18 months.
While time will tell if these trends are here to stay, it will also be interesting to see how the pandemic continues to impact consumers’ buying habits and in turn, how wine and spirit producers adapt to meet these evolving needs.
Want to learn more about beverage industry trends and how to leverage these insights to build your brand? Reach out to our team to learn more.