Seven out of 10 consumers (71%) now purchase beverages away from home twice a week or more often, up from 66% in 2010, according to food/foodservice industry research and consultancy firm Technomic.
Two-thirds of 1,500 consumers surveyed reported that they drank regular hot coffee (68%) and regular soft drinks (66%) at least once in the past month, and about half said they bought regular hot coffee (46%) and regular soft drinks (53%) from foodservice at least once in the last month, shows research in the firm’s new Beverage Consumer Trend Report.
Asked which beverage(s) they purchased at fast-food restaurants within the past month, 48% cited regular soft drinks, 26% diet soft drinks, 20% regular hot coffee, 16% iced tea dispensed by the cup, 14% milkshakes, and 9% lemonade.
Specialty coffees, specialty teas and smoothies all showed growth in top-500 limited-service restaurants.
Specialty coffee items have emerged as one of the beverage leaders in this restaurant segment, with the number of these items on menus growing by 10% over the past two years, Technomic reports. Specialty tea listings nearly doubled in the same period, reflecting the rise of sweet tea. Meanwhile, listings of smoothies, including fruit smoothies, grew 8.5%, and protein-enhanced varieties jumped 123%. In addition, nearly a third (29%) of consumers overall say that they like to try new/unique beverages out of home, and nearly half (47%) of consumers 18 to 24 state this.
For restaurant and foodservice venues and their beverage suppliers, all of this adds up to new opportunities, as the economy stabilizes, to employ high-margin beverages to boost traffic and average check sizes, points out Technomic.
Foodservice consumers continue to base dining decisions on their perception of value, and “innovative operators are creating value by crafting new and unique beverages including specialty lemonades, handmade sodas and 'mocktails' that are flavorful, fresh and better-for-you options,” says Technomic EVP Darren Tristano.