Prepared Foods talks with Ilana Orlofsky, marketing coordinator for Imbibe, a Niles, Ill., contract new beverage development company.


Prepared Foods: What are the top beverage trends, to date?

Ilana Orlofsky: The beverage trends that have garnered the most attention have done so by leveraging societal macro-trends, namely health-consciousness.

Clean-label has evolved into simplicity as an idea that resonates with consumers looking for minimally processed food and beverages. Functional coffee tops my list of beverage trends, for its versatility and widespread appeal. The other four trends that make the cut are: drinking vinegars and vinegar-based beverages, like shrubs and switchel; kombucha; plant-based protein drinks; and spices in beverages.


PF: What are a few new product examples of those trends?

Orlofsky: There are numerous types of value-added coffee in the marketplace, but one of the most interesting innovations comes from Vera Roasting Company, with a product called CoffVee. They combined resveratrol, which is most commonly found in the skin of grapes and berries, with coffee to create a beverage rich in antioxidants. I don’t currently know of any other brands that blend resveratrol and coffee, though the future of coffee innovation will demand creativity in terms of which health benefits to add to this global staple.

I’ve also seen a probiotic packed coffee by Jus by Julie. Probiotics are really popular right now, but consumers have different thresholds for the taste of fermentation. As research continues, developers will introduce better flavor maskers and flavor combinations in addition to beverages that blur the category lines.


PF: What are some of most interesting new coffee and tea trends?

Orlofsky: In addition to functional coffee, sparkling coffee is starting to gain traction. I’ve only seen a few companies package sparkling coffee so far, but it’s interesting to see brands manipulate taste and mouthfeel in new ways.

I also think sparkling teas are an innovative new development. I saw B.W. Cooper, S&D Coffee & Tea and Teafinity showcase this at the National Restaurant Association Show this past May, so I definitely expect to start seeing sparkling tea in foodservice in the next six months or so.


PF: What’s new in juices and waters?

Orlofsky: Consumer perception surrounding water is that it’s healthier than other beverages, so the enhanced water segment has exploded and is expected to experience significant growth. I’ve seen a few different categories of water that I think are really innovative – from adding some spice and an additional kick with caffeine, to several different types of plant water.

There’s been value added to juice as long as orange juice fortified with vitamin C has been around, but there’s still a lot of innovation happening. Cold-pressed juices are pushing the envelopes by incorporating more vegetables than fruits. Harvest Soul markets one of their product lines as Chewable Juice, and touts a blend of 21 fruits and veggies mixed with nuts, seeds and other berries.

Speaking of berries, another brand that comes to mind—Coffee Juice, includes whole juiced blueberries as one of its main ingredients.


Originally appeared in the July, 2016 issue of Prepared Foods as First Person.