The US beverage industry is awash in recent product introductions featuring alternative ingredients, natural or organic positioning, and free-from labeling all marketed to fit the lifestyles of modern consumers. These trends are as important in the kids beverage segment as they are in products marketed to adults, according to US Beverage Market Outlook 2019 by market research firm Packaged Facts.

“Products that are better-for-you and more convenient are more appealing when purchasing beverages,” said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts. “In recent years we’ve seen fruit juice and dairy companies counter attrition by advancing health positioning with organic, natural ingredient, and low sugar claims. While water marketers are finding ways to put both fun and flavor into a plain yet reputably healthy product without sacrificing what makes water the beverage many parents prefer for their children.”

Kid-Friendly Waters   

Plain water is inherently kid-friendly and parent-favored; however, it is tough to get little ones to drink unflavored water. Sugary, artificially flavored drinks are avoided by growing numbers of parents, giving rise to waters specifically created that kids will want to drink and parents will buy.  Modern and emerging kids’ products are typically sugar-free and zero-calorie.   

Rethink Brands, maker of boxed water, launched RETHINK Kids Water in 2017 and received an investment from AccelFoods for growth and expansion in 2018. The organic water comes in five flavors and does not contain sodium, sugar, or calories. The package is similar to a juice box and made from 70% renewable paperboard. The company believes its kids’ water will appeal to Millennials who are demanding healthier food and beverages and beginning to have children.

Better Kids Milk  

Milk is inherently good for kids and necessary for their growth and development. With so many other beverage choices, it is hard for parents to get kids to drink milk, and to avoid sugary, sweetened flavored milk. TruMoo is the leader in chocolate milk, and makes it clear to parents that its product is not only delicious so kids will drink it, but also healthy—it features the usual protein, calcium, and vitamins, but is also made with real cocoa and doesn’t contain any artificial flavors, GMOs, or high fructose corn syrup.

Likewise, LALA’s Good Kids Super Smoothies are promoted as healthy snacks made with low fat milk, real fruit, and no high fructose corn syrup. They also contain probiotics.

Better-For-You Kids’ Juice

Juice marketers have stepped up efforts to develop and market kids’ juices with less sugar to appease parents and enough flavor to get kids to drink them. In 2018, the leading apple juice brand Mott’s introduced Sensibles, a line made with 100% juice and 30% less sugar compared to regular apple juice. Sensibles has no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or added sugars. The company says it reduces sugar levels in the juice naturally by adding coconut water and vegetable juice.

Leading kids’ juice brand Juicy Juice expanded its better-for-you offerings with a lower-sugar, organic product range called Splashers Organic. Products are made with organic fruit juice and contain no high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. The company claims and communicates to parents that the drinks have 50% less sugar than the leading juice (9 grams of sugar compared to the leading juice at 21 grams per serving).

Tropicana Kids are organic fruit juice drinks made with 45% real fruit juice, filtered water, and no added sweeteners or artificial flavors. Packaging has a clear panel to let parents see the product.

Coca-Cola’s Tum-e Yummies are fruit-flavored water drinks that were rebranded in 2018 with a new logo, tagline, and flavors. The company promotes the drinks as both kid- and parent-friendly. Kid-friendly attributes include “delicious” fruit flavor and fun names like Big Berry Blast, Edgy Orange Burst, Fruit Punch Party, Epic Apple Flip, and Rad Raspberry Zing. Appealing to parents, the company emphasizes the fact that the drinks are water, not juice, and calls out the high level of vitamins, lack of sodium, and relatively low levels of calories and sugar.   

View additional information about US Beverage Market Outlook 2019.