America’s beverage companies are committed to helping address obesity and supporting consumers’ efforts to improve their health and well-being. Most recently, in partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, beverage companies announced a nationwide initiative to reduce beverage calories in the American diet.
To do so, beverage companies will leverage their marketing, innovation and distribution strength to provide consumers more reduced-calorie and smaller-portion choices, calorie information at every point of purchase, and visible calls to action to remind consumers about calories and the importance of balancing what they eat, drink and do.
With a shared goal of reducing beverage calories consumed per person by 20 percent nationally by 2025, this is the single-largest voluntary effort by an industry to help fight obesity.
Americans now have a recommended specific limit on how much added sugar they should consume. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans released in January 2016 recommend a limit of 10 percent of total daily caloric intake. The previous Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 said people should reduce their intake of added sugars but did not give a specific amount.
In response to the new U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the American Beverage Association issued the following statement: “We fully support the goal to help Americans achieve and maintain a healthy weight. America’s beverage companies are doing their part to help people manage their calorie and sugar intake by providing a wide range of beverage choices, a variety of package sizes and clear, easy-to-read calorie information (on package and at point of purchase) to help them make the choice that's right for them. With our Balance Calories Initiative, we are working toward a common goal of reducing beverage calories in the American diet. This is a meaningful initiative that will have significant real world impact in helping people reduce their consumption of calories and sugar from beverages.”
While America’s non-alcoholic beverage market is shifting in favor of better-for-you alternatives, new research from Mintel reveals that taste/flavor (72 percent) is by far the main influencer for consumers when drinking preferred beverages. Health and nutritional attributes (21 percent) and functional attributes (16 percent) are less influential. Today, cross-category beverages are becoming increasingly more available as brands attempt to cater to consumers’ better-for-you demands while also delivering innovative new flavor options.
The top three categories of non-alcoholic beverages saw stagnant or declining sales from 2014-2015, with carbonated soft drinks (0.1 percent growth), juice (0.1 percent growth) and dairy milk (7 percent decline) suffering the most. This comes as trending beverage categories, including energy drinks (8.9 percent growth) and coffee (8.7 percent growth), experienced strong sales growth.
Mintel research indicates consumers are looking for alternative drink options. In fact, two thirds (67 percent) of Americans sometimes or frequently purchase new or different beverages, and 18 percent say they drink a wide variety of beverages.
“While the non-alcoholic beverage market is innovating to address consumer interest in healthy options, taste and flavor remain the most influential reasons for consumption. No matter how healthy a drink is, if it doesn't taste good consumers won’t buy it, and the amount of available products on the market makes it easy for consumers to simply move to another option,” said Elizabeth Sisel, beverage analyst at Mintel. “Sales trends suggest the better-for-you movement is reshaping the non-alcoholic beverage industry, but brands should consider a stronger focus on communicating flavor, in addition to health-centric or function attributes, of cross-category products.”