While beverages have always played a significant role in the success of the foodservice industry, recent innovations have led to growth for businesses.

“Beverage growth has outpaced that of foodservice within the past few years thanks to innovative options such as nitro coffee, plant-based milks and other alternative beverages entering this space,” says David Henkes, principal at industry analyst Technomic. “Although challenges like third-party delivery are encroaching on beverage occasions, the category has a lot of opportunities available through offering a wide variety of innovative beverage options to their guests.”

Technomic recently released its Away-from-Home Beverage Study, covering how consumer demands and business conditions have shifted within the past few years. Key findings from the study include:

  • 40 percent of consumers will not purchase any beverage or will leave an operation if their preferred beverage is not available
  • Away-from-home beverages grew about 4.1 percent over the past few years, slightly above foodservice growth
  • 59 percent of total beverage sales are coming from just three segments: quick-service restaurants, coffee cafes, and full-service restaurants

Starbucks recently announced that it would serve its Nitro Cold Brew at 100 percent of its company-operated locations by the end of 2019. The company is on track to meet that goal, and currently has taps in 80 percent of company-owned stores. The small-batch cold brew, slow-steeped and infused with nitrogen for a naturally sweet flavor and velvety finish, has quickly become one of the company’s most popular beverages after being introduced in 2018.

Cold drink innovation has led to afternoon sales growth for Starbucks. The company credits Nitro Cold Brew as a key reason for this success.