New world beverages will be sugar-free, low alcohol and CBD-infused

New world beverages will be sugar-free, low alcohol and CBD-infused

A landmark analysis of non-alcoholic drink sales in Australia has some predictions on what we will be drinking in five to ten years’ time and it looks like we’ll be glugging CBD.

It’s fair to say we have all been enjoying a few more drinks of late due to lockdown living, but what has been your non-alcoholic tipple of choice? A much-loved kombucha, some kefir water or maybe just plain old tap water?

And will that bevvy be trending in the years to come?

A landmark analysis of non-alcoholic drink sales in Australia has some predictions on what we will be drinking in five to ten years’ time and it’s pretty interesting.

What did we use to drink and what are we drinking now?

Unsurprisingly perhaps, the research, conducted by the Australian Beverages Council, found that our biggest shift since the late ‘90s is the shunning of sugar.

Back then, in 1997 to be exact, 64% of drinks in the fridge were sugar-sweetened with the remaining 36% made up of non-sugar options; cut to 2018 and that’s flipped with 59% of drinks now non-sugar and 41% sugar-sweetened.

“Over the last 20 or so years, more Australians have become increasingly health conscious,” says Australian Beverages Council CEO Geoff Parker. “Anyone visiting their local servo or convenience store will see most of their favourite brands available in a no-sugar option.”

A surprise finding of the research was the fall in sales of fruit juice, which has a greater rate of decline than sugar-sweetened soft drinks.

H20 is still rating though, and we’re now drinking 42 more litres of the stuff – still and sparkling than we were in 1997. Maybe thanks to the fact we’re all firing up fizz makers these days.

The next ‘big’ drink

Turns out that despite all those iso happy hours, our drinks of the future won’t just be sugar-free, but booze-free too.

“We’re seeing a premium trend across drinks that supports moves by many to ditch alcohol in favour of a premium non-alcoholic drink,” says Parker.

Kombucha’s reign as the health drink of choice looks set to continue and its growing popularity will spawn more functional beverages including more probiotic drinks as well as fruit drinks with protein and vitamins.

“Interestingly, it’s both our time-poor lifestyles and an increase in health consciousness that are driving demand for functional beverages,” explains Parker.

But it’s not just probiotics and promises of help gut health we will be seeking out.

Parker also points to the innovations in soft drinks in the US where manufacturers have embraced regulatory change and are creating drinks infused with cannabidiol [CBD].

“CBD is the second most prevalent active ingredient of cannabis, although by itself it does not cause psychoactive effects. For manufacturers right across the US, this development heralds a new period in the life of the drinks business, although it may be some time, if ever before a similar product makes it to Australia,” says Parker.

Sugar-free, booze-free and plastic-free, please

Parker says there’s a real thirst for more than healthy drinks in Australia, we’re also after a sip that offers greater sustainability.

“No longer is sustainability simply a ‘nice to have’, but it is now an essential part of the drinks industry,” he says.

“In the years ahead, you’ll see drinks companies moving to increase recycled content in their bottles, cans and cartons. While all beverage containers are completely recyclable, we still have a way to go to ensure every bottle, can and carton is returned so that it can be made into another bottle, can or carton.”