Monday, August 23, 2021

Grocerant Niche Better for You Beverage Growth


Beverages have evolved from a side order, too an entrée, with the halo of ‘better-for-you’ according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. Johnson continued, “I cannot think of a chain restaurant that has a drive thru that does not offer at least a mini-meal option with a beverage as a meal solution today.”

Yes, times they are a Changin’ once again, as fast casual, and fast-food restaurants are offering smoothies as meal solutions.  Once more they are evolving their menus to include smoothies that are less sweet and more focused on specific health-related purposes through interested plant-based ingredients, herbs and spices targeting consumers looking for food discovery and grocerant niche portable food with the halo of better for you.

Matt Dugan, corporate executive chef at Vitamix, stated, "In lieu of sweetness, people are becoming open to new and different combinations of flavors in their smoothies, for example, basil and strawberries or mango and chipotle". "The American palette, especially among the younger audiences, of Gen Z and Millennials s become more enterprising, curious, and open to new, unfamiliar flavors."

Beverage chains are growing up and garnering a larger share of stomach. In 2020, Dallas-based smoothie shop Smoothie King opened a record 263 new stores globally to reach more than 1,300 stores worldwide and closed out the second half of the year with a 12.2 percent-increase in comparable sales. Smoothie franchises such as Tropical Smoothie Café also reported double-digit growth last year. They are now more than just a beverage chain; they are a meal replacement option for many consumers today.

While Gen Z and Millennials like food discovery they also line menu option with the halo of better for you. Many of today's smoothie customers have specific health goals and expect smoothies to help them in their journeys.

Rocky Gettys, vice president of product development for Smoothie King, stated, "People are not just seeking out healthy foods — they are looking for a combination of ingredients that will serve a tangible and specific purpose," … "That places a particular onus on made-to-order smoothie chains to deliver a product that connects the dots."

Empowering choice today includes, menu concepts based on purpose can include smoothies designed for pre- or post-workout, immune health, joint health, energy, weight loss, protein and muscle building and more.

The move toward purposeful smoothies is expected to continue, according to Vitamix and Smoothie King, which predicted that new areas of consumer interest may include brain health and skin health as well as seasonally relevant areas of interest, such as cold and flu in the winter and energy and hydration in the summer.

As the smoothie market adjusts to consumers' concerns about excessive sugar, sweet ingredients such as sorbet, honey, purees and syrups are likely to play a less prominent role grocerant niche food retails from fast food to grocery outlets, expect to find recipes with kale, spinach, carrots and other vegetables will continue to gain ground.

Gettys continued, "The blending of tropical fruits with greens is a real winner in today's smoothie market". ."You have to remember that while a smoothie must be healthy, it also needs to taste good. So, mixing the antioxidant richness of vegetables with the allure of tropical flavors is the sweet spot for smoothies right now."

That ‘halo’ extends according to Dugan who added, "We are seeing a fast-growing interest in anything plant-based. It's not just vegans and vegetarians who are interested in plant-based nutrition. There is a broad-based awareness that vegetables, berries, seeds and whole grains play a very important role in our diet."

The use of herbs and spices to help manage sugar content in smoothies is on the rise. Blending ingredients such as ginger, cinnamon or cocoa adds healthful ingredients as well as flavor, lessening the need to add sugar for a great taste. Despite these emerging trends, customization is key for smoothie menus.

Empowering a consumer-focused interactive participatory look and feel so it’s clear too Dugan that, "No smoothie operator wants to play nutrition police and force consumers into a rigid set of guidelines. We're here to give people flexibility to choose what is right for them,". "That's why you are going to see more customizable options on smoothie menus, even as the menu overall becomes less sweet and healthier."

Getty’s went on to say, "The best model for customization is one that holds some ingredients stable while inviting choice on some others," … "For example, customers can substitute one fruit or vegetable for another; choose among nut butters; or choose between milk and other non-dairy options, like oat milk and almond milk. We are always open to substitutions at Smoothie King, but we also want to steer our customers toward what tastes good."

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a new menu product segment and brand and menu integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

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