The new year is synonymous with new opportunities. A blank page upon which to set new intentions and objectives. A renewed impulse to eat and drink healthily after indulging in festivities. So, what will be quenching our thirst in 2024? New technologies in F&B production alongside consumer preferences for easy, convenient health products which fit neatly into our daily routines have spurred a boom in the functional beverage segment... let's take a closer look at the welllness beverage trends of 2024.
Staying hydrated in 2024: Core trends
In the first weeks of the new year, what better time to (re)focus on health and wellness – starting with how we stay hydrated. Interestingly in 2024, many of the general drinks trends in the beverage industry happen to sit in the health and wellness sub-segment.
2024 will be as much about what’s in our drinks (proteins, adaptogens, plants) as what’s not in them (alcohol, sugar, artificial ingredients) with 43% of Americans are resolving to adopt healthier diets this year, according to a YouGov survey. To support this sentiment many people are adjusting their drinking habits, and swapping traditional sodas and juices for better-for-you, nutritious options - known as "functional beverages".
What's more, the nolo (no-to-low alcohol ABV) movement continues to rise among the population of western countries with drinking cultures around the world. For example, in the UK more than one in four people (28%) said they want to reduce the amount of alcohol they drink in 2024, according to the charity Alcohol Change UK. Whereas analytics company Gallup found that only about 38% of young adults are regular drinkers.
So, whether you’re participating in Dry January – a month of alcohol abstinence, interested in clean living, or even curious about preventitive medecine through the lens of what you consume, we’ve got you covered with EHL Insight's top wellness beverages to add to your shopping cart in 2024.
...But before we jump head first into the list, let's be honest, this booming wellness drink sub-segment is a marketers dream, playing on both health woes and idealist body image in equal measure. Whilst the health claims on these drinks are legitimately backed by science, if you'd rather hold onto your hard-earned cash, it's important to remember that the number one drink in terms of health benefits will always be - water.
Health drinks: Style over substance?
Research shows that consumers nowadays care deeply about what kind of brands they associate with and that they align with their personal values and even their style.
That's why F&B brands are investing heavily in branding, packaging and collaborations to appeal to their switched on target consumers in a crowded beverage market. Drinks, snack products and the vessels in which they come in are becoming status symbols, an extension of ones style, a consumable accessory that comes with social kudos. You would have had to have been living under a rock if you missed the rise - and continual rise - of the Stanley Cup in 2023.
The success of the Quencher has helped Stanley grow its annual revenue from $70 million to more than $750 million in four years. Source: CNBC
Top wellness beverages 2024
Water has never had so much flavor and sparkle. Whether it’s infused with natural botanical extracts, boosted with probiotics or other nutritional ingredients, sparkling water is getting tastier and trendier.
The global water market is expected to grow annually by 7.4% from 2020 to 2025, and part of the growth is attributed to these enhanced waters with their sugar-free, calorie-free, fruity herbal aromas which, ultimately, encourage rehydration.
So, whether you’re drinking one of the many ready-to-drink cans or bottles from the supermarket shelf or making your own fruity mixture at home with a soda stream, H2O will be the way to go.
Drinks for gut health
In the last couple of years, the conversation around gut health has been steadily getting louder. It's now a known fact that our gut holds the key to our overall health and we control this largely via our diet.
Studies have shown that maintaining a diverse range of bacteria in the gut can potentially lower the risk of various health conditions, including diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriatic arthritis and even mental health conditions.
Kombucha – a fermented and slightly effervescent tea-based drink – has been a firm favorite when it comes to healthy drinks for many years for its probiotic gut-boosting properties.
Expect to see more functional beverages reinforced with immune bolstering properties. Super-charged with a combination of vitamins, antioxidants, probiotics or plant-based components, these multi-ingredient wellness beverages, shots and dissolvable powders are set to boost our daily dose of vitamins and fortify our body’s natural defenses – taking natural vitamin juice to the next level.
Shots (the non-alocoholic variety)
Gone are the days when it was deemed healthy to start your day with a glass of OJ, what we now know is effectively starting your day with a cup of sugar with a side of vitamin C. Never have we been so health-conscious and intent on having a strong immune system – a growing interest which is also trickling into our drinks. With demand for vitamin and mineral supplements on the rise, beverages that support well-being using combined formulations promising multiple benefits are going to be top of the list in the new year.
But those big (health) promises can come in small packages. Gut shots, immune-boosting shots and other vitamin-packed shots have been on the rise for several years now. Packaged in cute miniature bottles, health shots are usually found in the refrigerated section of supermarkets and pharmacies, and now even coffee shops and casual dining restaurants.
Coffee is in (again)
Coffee has been in and out of dietician's favor more times than we can remember but a toasty cup of joe never really went out of the zeitgeist among the general public. This ancient drink is engrained in the daily rituals and cultures of populations in every country all over the world - each with a slightly different take on the drink.
The ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee and tea market is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, reaching $133 billion by 2027. Consumers are increasingly looking for beverages that are low in sugar and calories, and as long as you don't get tempted by sugary syrups or calorie-dense milks, coffee lovers benefit from a spurt in energy for very little calories.
The main (only, if we're honest) downside to coffee in terms of health, is that caffeine blocks the brain receptors that enduce "sleepiness", therefore it can lead to problems getting to sleep or staying asleep.
We all now know the value of sleep and it's impact on our mood, cognitive function and overall health, and when we experience poor sleep we are more likely to reach for even more coffee the next day which could exacerbate the sleep problem. That's why it's recommended to stop your caffeine intake by the early afternoon. As for taking a post-dinner espresso? You must be mad!
Brain-boosting and relaxation ‘fuel’
Whether you find it hard to focus, manage stress, or struggle to relax and unwind before going to bed – help is on its way in the form of a new range of functional beverages promoting relaxation or mental clarity.
Tapping into natural and nutritious ingredients that improve cognitive functions by using amino acids (L-theanine) or nootropics are having a moment. Much like CBD-infused ready-to-go beverages such as Trip’s lemon-juice and basil-infused sparkling drink or Calm Drinks cold brew cofee.fee.
The Global CBD Beverages Market experienced remarkable growth from its valuation of USD 4.4 Billion back in 2022. Experts predict that this market will continue to soar, reaching a staggering USD 34.4 Billion by 2032. This exponential growth is expected to be driven by a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 23.5% from 2023 to 2032.
As stress, anxiety, and depression continue to plague individuals worldwide, the demand for CBD-infused teas, coffees, tonics, seltzers, and water remains strong. This thriving market shows no signs of slowing down, solidifying its position as a long-lasting trend in the beverage industry.
When it comes to healthy-er alcoholic beverages, almost anything on this list can be spiked. Light, revitalizing, low in sugar and calories, generally vegan and gluten-free, original blends, natural ingredients, and convenient – hard seltzers are an appealing choice for those looking for a ‘healthier’ and guilt-free drinking experience. Similar to hard kombucha, this spiked fizzy drink comes in a draft or mixer ready-to-drink format.
According to industry analysis by Grandview Research, the global market size for hard seltzers reached an estimated value of USD 13.48 billion in 2022. Projections indicate that this market will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.8% from 2023 to 2030, demonstrating the continued popularity and expansion of this beverage category. Needless to say, the beer, wine and spirit businesses have all been eyeing this fast-growing new category and wasted no time to get in on the latest trend.
Whether you’re a beer drinker looking for an alternative – think Bud Light Lemonade, a spirit lover wanting something lighter – hint Cutwater Vodka, or a casual drinker after something low in alcohol content – introducing market leader White Claw, there’s something for everyone wanting to enjoy a ‘healthy’ drink without abstaining altogether.
Performance-boosting workout drinks
We're no longer talking about caffeine and sugar-pumped energy drink brands such as Red Bull or Monster, although caffeine is still a primary ingredient for many of these supplements. The new age of energy drink is derived from much purer sources and with much fewer - or no - calories.
They tend to come in the format of powders that can be added to water with the aim of boosting performance and endurance in the gym or during training, stimulating muscle growth post-workout, replenishing minerals that may have been lost through sweat, and some even claim they can help with shredding fat (although hard work is still required).
Once the gym companion of the ripped bodybuilder, these supplements have become far more commonplace among regular health-conscious gym-goers, both men and women, looking to get the most out of their workout.