Cheers! If you formulate and process beverages for the foodservice sector, there’s been lots to celebrate in 2019.

Beverages were a key topic and theme when the National Restaurant Association (NRA) released results of its annual “What’s Hot” survey. Conducted in late 2018, the results forecast food, beverage, and culinary concepts for this year. The annual survey polled more than 650 professional chefs, all members of the American Culinary Federation.

The annual survey found that 77% of the chefs identified cannabis/CBD-infused drinks as the No. 1 overall food and beverage trend for 2019. Looking more specifically at just beverages, chefs identified craft, artisan, and locally produced spirits the industry’s leading alcoholic beverage trend this year. Craft coffee and house-made soda trended highly in the non-alcoholic category.

“At restaurants and other foodservice operations today, beverages, including wines, spirits, beers, and non-alcoholic drinks are big traffic drivers,” said Hudson Riehle, the association’s senior vice president of research. “Offering craft liquors, wines, and other beverages, allows restaurants to distinguish their drink programs from their competitors. At the same time, putting a more local, sustainable spin on beverages is particularly appealing to Millennials, who, in general, are more apt to support smaller, different, more socially responsible businesses and products.”

In other news, beverages also were among many of NRA’s annual 2019 Food and Beverage (FABI Awards) highlighted during the organization’s annual May convention in Chicago. Of 32 new products recognized, there were four beverage honorees including  

… Odwalla Craft Ades, The Coca Cola Company.

Odwalla Craft Ades are a line of premium ades (lemonades and limeades) infused with herbs, spices, and botanicals to deliver a delicious, artisan-inspired beverage experience. Available in six unique flavors, these specialty ades are sweetened with cane sugar and natural flavors. The beverages are available to foodservice operators in a frozen concentrate format. Once thawed, the product is mixed with water and dispensed through bubblers or handcrafted in small batches/pitchers. The new lineup is available in Blackberry Basil Lemonade, Lavender Mint Lemonade, Spicy Watermelon Lemonade, Tangerine Passionfruit Lemonade, Strawberry Guava Lemonade, and Pomegranate Limeade.

… Cold Brew Shandy, La Colombe Coffee Roasters.

Cold brew coffee with lemonade and cold brew coffee with grapefruit pair surprisingly well together. The citrus notes present in most high elevation, higher scoring coffee beans, was a natural fit to pair with the smooth taste of Pure Black cold brew. La Colombe Cold Brew Shandy Lemonade uses lemons sourced from centuries-old groves along the Mediterranean coast in Sicily. Cold Brew Shandy Grapefruit is made with light-roasted Colombian organic coffee and natural pink grapefruit juice. The cold brew in the Cold Brew Shandy line is produced using La Colombe’s Colombian Light Roast blend, sourced from the Sierra Nevada mountains. It is Fair Trade Certified and organic.

…Holistic Cold-Pressed Juice Line, Natalie’s.

Officials say Natalie’s new line of holistic cold-pressed juices are “mindfully” crafted with functional botanicals, traditional spices, and superfood ingredients to promote health, wellness, and nutrition. Natalie’s uses only simple, authentically sourced ingredients maintaining the Natalie’s philosophy of producing juices that are made from five ingredients or less. No artificial ingredients, preservatives, or added sugars.

… Half Naked, PepsiCo Foodservice.

Naked Juice introduces Half Naked, a flavorful juice with 50% less sugar than the leading 100% juice smoothie. Featuring no added sugars or artificial sweeteners, Half Naked comes in three flavors: Peach Ginger, Watermelon Passion Fruit, and Lively Greens.

Originally appeared in the August, 2019 issue of Prepared Foods as What's Hot? Drinks!