In recent years, the beverages industry has been transformed by the innovation of once routine thirst-appeasing liquids into exciting, energizing, sometimes better-for-you products. Consumers are looking for beverages that satisfy a number of needs in their daily lives beyond satiating thirst, and these include energy, weight loss, illness mitigation, nutrient replacement, sugar and caffeine cravings and protein intake. Beverages are taking cues from exotic flavors, fruits and even ancient foods to deliver products that are both functional and exciting, according to market research firm Packaged Facts in the report South American Flavors: Culinary Trend Tracking Series.

"Food producers, retailers and foodservice operators, including restaurants, will be drawing upon food and beverages from Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and other South American countries to inspire the creation of highly-differentiated products and offerings that are sure to engage and excite customers," says David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts.

Fruit that has typically been popular in Latin America and indigenous there, like pineapple, is making its way into the beverages we see and experience daily, like tea, juice and adult beverages. They're also fueling energy and nutritional drinks. Vegetables, grains and seeds have also become a mainstay in beverages. Purple corn, a dark-colored, ancient vegetable indigenous to South America is emerging as an exciting option with wellness attributes; Anthocyanin, a flavonoid in purple corn, purple potatoes and a number of dark fruits and vegetables that gives them their purplish color, has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer in some research.

Purple corn, identified in South American Flavors: Culinary Trend Tracking Seriesas an opportunistic food for CPG, food retailers and foodservice/restaurant operators, has been used for hundreds of years in a Peruvian drink called chicha morada. The drink is made by boiling purple corn with cinnamon sticks, cloves and other fruit, including pineapple. The Varas Group, a company that produces chicha morada-inspired Chicha Limeña, has been in the spotlight in recent years for its plans to increase production of purple corn-based and wellness beverages. Chicha Limeña is made with pineapple, lemon, cinnamon, cloves, cane sugar and filtered water. Simply Originals, another Varas brand, also sells a chicha morada drink and other specialty beverages that are marketed to the natural/organic demographic.