Alternative Beverages on the Rise

As sales of staples such as soda decline, contenders are appearing across the beverage industry. Dairy hasn’t gone untouched, with plant-based alternatives growing rapidly. Other botanical beverages are trying to ride the same wave that gave rise to coconut water, touting health benefits and unique ingredients to gain the attention of younger consumers.

While retail sales in both the dairy and alternative market reached $24 billion in 2014, a 4% increase from 2013, the alternatives are taking a bigger chunk of the market, according to Packaged Facts. While they accounted for just 14% of the industry in 2010 that number reached 20% in 2014, driven by strong growth in the almond milk segment. The beverage saw 40% dollar sales growth and only slightly lower volume sales growth in 2013. The market is open for other options, and major producers like WhiteWave are already experimenting with other options such as cashew milk and hemp milk.

In terms of botanicals, the market is wide open for new varieties. Companies are tapping ingredients including lotus flowers, wild berry, prickly pear cactus juice, mushrooms, maple water and bamboo leaf extract in a variety of drinks. The ingredients offer their own health claims, give products an exotic appeal, and can be infused into both new and traditional drinks, ranging from birch water to green tea with lemonade.