22 November 2018, 08:48 AM
  • Social media, changing tastes and international trends all play a part in this evolving sector
Hot drinks today

The hot drinks market is ever evolving, with different consumer needs leading the way towards trends. Turmeric lattes have been circling cafés and Instagram for the past year with sales of the ‘super-spice’ rising 765% in the past two years, but there is always new innovation out there apart from the golden milk. If anything, the popularity of the turmeric latte can be seen as an encapsulation of three UK consumer tendencies: health consciousness, the search for variety and an expanding love of coffee.

According to research by Market Watch, 64% of consumers around the globe regularly consume hot drinks, and they are looking for offerings that are innovating, exciting, functional and suited to their varied lifestyles.

Something old,something new
The UK is, traditionally, a nation of tea-drinkers, with the standard cuppa an icon of British culture. However, volume sales of ordinary tea bags are down, with competition from alternatives like coffee eating away at sales, and Brits are drinking a reported 870 million fewer cups of tea per year.

While the standard builder’s brew is losing out in the public gaze, tea is in no way disappearing from the hot drinks scene. Rather than getting stuck watching sales dwindle, many tea brands have found a new way of presenting the British classic: variety. Sales of green tea, herbal tea, fruit tea have coming booming onto the market, suiting the tastes of Brits aged 25+, 37% of whom say they have drunk five to six different kinds of tea at home or at work in the past month (compared to the 3% aged 55+ who said the same), according to research by Mintel.

Variety provides businesses with an opportunity to expand their offering and capitalise on seasonality, while modern tea drinkers appreciate the range. According to co-founder of the alcoholic tea brand NovelTea, Vincent Efferoth, “Here in the UK you have a saying, with good reason, that everyone has a different cuppa, and often that depends on how you feel. The tea you have before you go to bed, something herbal or fruity, will be different to the one you have at the start of the day – perhaps a black or green tea to get your caffeine for that day – which is different to the chamomile you might have when you’re feeling unwell.”

Coffee, on the other hand, has seen wild market success in the UK recently, with four in five British adults drinking coffee at home, according to Mintel. Anita Winter, Mintel research analyst said, “Brits have become a country of coffee drinkers. While instant coffee is the nation’s most favoured variety, the popularity of artisan coffee shops has helped some coffee drinkers, especially younger ones, to regard themselves as coffee connoisseurs. Many consumers are even ashamed to give their guests the instant version, perhaps because they believe that some instant coffee is cheaper and therefore inferior.” British home coffee-makers are starting to branch out, with speciality coffee firmly established in the UK market.

As the market expands, so does its offering, with green bean coffee from Feel Good Coffee making its way onto the scene as a new take on what has quickly become a seen everywhere beverage. Following the popularity of the raw trend, these unroasted beans provide that sought-after caffeine hit without losing the natural antioxidants in coffee, which are generally lost in the roasting process.

Reinventing classics
Whether you walk down a supermarket aisle or read a yearly report, you’re bound to notice the unflappable rise of veganism. While full-time vegans are up in their numbers, with 3.5 million vegans in the UK at present, consumers who are increasingly aware of their health and carbon footprint are engaging with flexitarian diets – reduced meat and dairy consumption – with data by Kantar Worldpanel indicating a rise over the past two years in ‘part-time vegetarians’ of 2.2 million Britons.

Milk used in hot drinks has been revolutionised by the needs of these two camps, with consumers seeking dairy-free alternatives to splash into their morning latte. While products like soy, coconut and almond milk have made a place for themselves in the market, oat milk is edging its way in, too. Popular in the US for its more environmental-leaning (it requires far fewer gallons of water to produce than almond milk) and for its dairy-like texture that allows professional and home baristas to craft satisfying lattes, it has made a move into the UK market.

The world of lattes remains engaging and ever-evolving. Most recently, Super-Lattes have evolved past turmeric lattes, with consumers still seeking beverages that provide nutrition as well as flavour in new and interesting ways. Zuma has a beetroot powder on the market, which can be used to make the newly-popular beetroot lattes, whose bright pink colour attracts social media users.

Meanwhile, with nutrition at the forefront of the modern consumer’s mind, consumers are looking for sugar alternatives. According to Mintel, more than half of Britons aged 25-34 say flavoured teas are a good alternative to sugary drinks. Modern tea blends are available that imitate well-loved desserts like Teapigs’ popcorn tea or classic flavours like Ace Tea’s Breakfast Marmalade.