- Imbibe, a beverage development company, predicts 2020 will see new beverages that innovate through holistic wellness, personalization, functionality and experience.
- Brands are expected to "go back to basics" by incorporating essential nutrients that support physical and emotional health, while also featuring ingredients like adaptogenic herbs and CBD. The report said functional beverages will be "next generation," addressing multiple needs to help consumers achieve emotional and physical health goals.
- Alcohol will diversify and feature more low- and no-alcohol options alongside CBD-infused beverages. The hard seltzer category is especially predicted to continue growing, the report says.
Many of Imbibe's trend predictions are already at the forefront of the space this year. Functional beverages, in particular, have seen an infusion of investment from venture capital companies. Last year, VCs put more than $170 million toward functional beverage companies — up from $111 million in 2017, according to Pitchbook data.
But while sales of some products are growing, most fail to win enough consumers to become long-term successes, according to The Wall Street Journal. That could change in 2020 if these beverages can gain a big following.
Although there is interest both from consumers and investors to continue to bottle health, 2020 is likely to see simpler additions to drinks, including omega-3s, zinc, calcium, potassium and vitamins. These tried and true nutrients may resonate with consumers who are disillusioned with claims on beverages promising a better night's sleep, improved digestion, elevated cognitive function, increased muscle mass or better cardiovascular health. The emergence of simpler functional drinks can be seen with the release of products like Harmony Proteins, which features collagen intended to help with sleep and energy.
Cannabis is another additive that has grown in popularity recently. CBD, derived from hemp, spans both the functional ingredient and wellness space. However, the substance is not federally legal, and some companies with CBD products have been issued warning letters for making unproven claims. Some states and localities allow CBD and marijuana products to be sold, so there are a number of legal markets nationwide.
While Imbibe predicts cannabis will continue to be used in mood-boosting and stress-relieving beverages, there is also a market for it to replace alcohol for some consumers. Recently, Molson Coors Canada partnered with Truss Beverage Co. to produce a CBD water and in late 2018, Ceria Brewing Co. launched Grainwave — a new line of THC-infused, zero-alcohol beer.
Imbibe said soft drinks are the next logical front for CBD to expand into. So far, Big Food has not been willing to cross that bridge. Last fall, CEO James Quincey downplayed getting into the space anytime soon, though there were reportedly talks of the Atlanta company entering into a partnership with Aurora Cannabis. However, after cannabis investment firm Sol Global took a 9.8% stake in Jones Soda, the company confirmed it would be working on CBD-infused blends. In markets where cannabis soda has launched, brands have seen success.
The report says high-end mocktails will also be on the rise in 2020, which falls in line with industry trends. Beer brewers and spirits makers are increasingly producing beverages with low or no alcohol levels. Heineken launched its nonalcoholic beer last year and Coors has offered non-alcoholic choices for decades. Guinness owner Diageo has Open Gate Pure Brew, and Carlsberg has been making no-alcohol beers since 2015. Earlier this year, Coca-Cola launched non-alcoholic cocktail concept Bar None.
Interestingly, the 2020 trends list does not put a spotlight on sustainable beverages and packaging, which has been a major consumer concern for several years. In fact, U.S. consumers looking for more sustainability have shown they are willing to pay more to feel like they are helping the environment. This has prompted sustainability practices to become more of the norm across the industry. But maybe because these sustainable pledges and practices are now commonplace, Imbibe no longer considers it a trend — rather it is an expectation for 2020.