Post-Pandemic Drinks Trends 2021/2022
Busy? Bored? Stressed? Though many have previously felt the answer lay at the bottom of a bottle, now it really might. As the impact of the pandemic continues to shape almost every facet of our lives, we look ahead to see how drinks are poised to position themselves as a proactive cure to our woes.
It may be obvious to say it, but Covid-19 has transformed everything we do, both physically, and mentally. Anxiety, insomnia, and stress have been common, while a climate of quarantine and time for self-reflection has given rise to a greater awareness of our health. We’ve had time to ruminate.
And while we're not post pandemic yet, we're already seeing how this seismic upheaval has begun to shape functional drinks trends, from stress relief, to drinks that aid concentration. As the world returns to a blur of busy burnout (have you missed it?) a number of new drinks are emerging that look set to shape future launches.
Consumers who have set upon a new path of self-care and reflection during lockdown, are keen to take these new habits with them as they return to old routines. Though long available in pill and supplement formats, ingredients such as calming passionflower, or immunity-boosting ginseng, mood-enhancing ashwagandha are being added to a variety of drinks, intended to offer an easy-to-consume format, that fit into everyday lives, and two-for-one functionality.
Alongside rising stress levels, imbibers have been looking to eat – and drink – clean. Sugar, additives and artificial preservatives have become the enemy in a quest to consume all-natural. Moving beyond raw, cold-pressed juices, what could be cleaner than water?
Pimped-up waters – with added functional ingredients – are a neat way of combining two trends. No.1 Botanicals, which claims to be the only botanical drinks company in the world to use fresh extract ashwagandha, has just launched Ashwagandha Water. Tapping into traditional remedies, particularly Ayurvedic, the ingredient is said to relieve stress, increase energy levels, and improve concentration. Expect more to follow as this becomes an ever more nuanced sub-category of its own.
Is caffeine becoming a dirty word? According to a number of ‘plant-powered’ new brands it might be. Clutch Cognition swerves the ingredient, and uses functional, brain-beneficial nutrients, arguing that consumers deserve better than caffeinated boosts. The plant-based brain health drinks are pitched as a direct alternative to caffeinated energy drinks, and aimed at sedentary, desk-based consumers.
Look out for more products that add plant-derived amino acid L-theanine (a neurologically active amino acid, derived from green tea, that aids focus) to both coffees and coffee alternatives.
Coffee beyond caffeine
Busy people need to make the most of their time. Functional coffees, that move beyond caffeine, intend to be the solution for people wanting to add health-boosting ingredients into their existing routines. Australia’s Savvy Beverage has launched both nootropic-enhanced coffee pods for Nespresso machines, to help improve memory, reduce stress and anxiety, increase focus, give a ‘clean’ energy boost, improve mood, and boost the immune system, as well as an RTD. Following the trend for better-for-you soda serves, it combines coffee and soda. Expect more RTD format enhanced coffees with ever more specific claims.
With the year or so we’ve had, immunity boosting drinks threaten to be a strong emerging category. Drinks brands are taking several approaches, tackling both existing physical pain, as well as warding off future ailments with immune boosting ingredients. Goodrays uses CBD to ease physical pain, inflammation and muscle fatigue. Aguulp offers liquid sachets containing a nourishing blend of essential vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids that helps support a healthy immune system. URBL Immunity shots, use Ayurveda and Traditional Herbal Medicine, with dandelion, beet, milk thistle ginger, and turmeric, among others. Expect these convenient shots and sachets to migrate across to longer drinks, especially trending RTDs.
Booze with benefits
Not to be outdone by soft drinks, full-strength products will begin to make a play for functionality; though they’ll never, of course, be able to market themselves as healthy options.
This trend is of course already happening in non-alc spirits, particularly those looking to replicate the buzz of booze. Take Edi for example. It uses blend of hemp, CBD, nootropics (for cognitive-enhancement), and adaptogens (for relaxation), for a feel-good endorphin effect and zero hangover. As moderating consumers move back and forth between low and no and full strength products, they’ll begin to demand the same functionality even when indulging.