CHICAGO — Findings from Technomic Inc.’s 2017 Away-From-Home Beverage Study reveals non-alcoholic beverages are a large and growing part of the foodservice industry. The study, which surveyed more than 800 foodservice operators and more than 3,000 consumers, shows that hot and cold beverages accounted for more than $181 billion in annual sales and totalled more than 113 billion servings in 2016.
The category includes soft drinks, teas, coffees and juices, as well as cold-brew coffee, energy drinks and enhanced waters. Although soda and regular coffee continue to drive beverage volume overall, formats such as specialty coffee (hot and iced), bottled water and energy drinks are expected to continue their already rapid growth in the next three to five years.
“Beverages account for $1 out of every $5 consumers spend away from home,” says David Henkes, senior principal at Technomic. “They are a critical part of the overall experience and, because of their central importance, it’s absolutely crucial for restaurant operators and their suppliers to understand how innovation impacts consumer satisfaction.”
Additional takeaways from the report include:
- Diet beverages sweetened with zero-calorie sugar substitutes, such as aspartame, are no longer perceived to be healthy. Other, more natural sweeteners such as agave, stevia and honey are among the better-for-you sweeteners capturing increased consumer and operator attention.
- While brand-name beverages are still critical to consumers — more than 50 per cent consider brand name either somewhat or very important — younger generations tend to downplay brand importance relative to older generations.
- Pricing and taste remain the top attributes operators emphasize when sourcing beverage products.