Beverage & Wine

Flavored waters, organic drinks refresh market

Italian wine is still the king of sales in the US market totalizing 1.4 billion euros in 2016. But healthy beverage products are booming.

From bottled drinks with fruit to the purest mineral waters, Italian beverages promise a variety of refreshing ideas for the trend-setting US market, as consumers look for new healthier drinks to enliven their routine. While wine remains the most-exported category to the US of Italy’s overall food and beverage industry, new drinks are reporting stronger growth as they haven’t yet reached full potential. Exports of wine to the US totaled 1.4 billion euros in 2016, up 5.8% from the year before, and were up 4.2% in the first two months of 2017, according to Ismea and Istat data. Other beverage products generated export sales of 370 million euros in 2016, up 2.5%. But they were already up 7.1% in the first two months of this year compared to the same period of 2016, Ismea said.

Beverages focus on natural ingredients

Blends of fruits and vegetables will be among the top innovations in the US beverage market this year. Italian drinks will mix unique locally-grown, handpicked fruits including oranges and lemons with pure mineral water. A new twist will come from additional ingredients such as ginger. As consumers reduce their sugar intake, more drinks will contain organic cane sugar or no sugar at all. Teas are also enjoying the innovation trend, and are available in new sophisticated flavors including black truffle.

Bottled water goes from pure and still to fruit mix

Italian bottled water makers are innovating across the board. From naturally-carbonated or still pure water in elegant glass bottles to flavored waters with fruit, there’s a plenty of choice for both the retail and foodservice channel. The new launches come as exports of Italian water to the US slowed 1% in 2016 to reach 149 million dollars, according to data by the Italian Trade Agency.

Water surpasses soft drinks in the United States

Americans seem to be following the latest health trend which considers sugared drinks an enemy to any healthy lifestyle. This means that they are drinking more water and fewer sodas and soft drinks. This new consumption style is becoming so consolidated that the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is predicting that 2017 will see a historic overtaking between the two nonalcoholic beverage categories. The quantity of water consumed will exceed those of carbonated beverages. Bottled water consumption by Americans grew by 7.6% in 2015, compared to 2014, reaching 11.6 million gallons, roughly 36.3 gallons per capita, which translates to 140 litres. This was an excellent result for a market that was traditionally oriented towards soft drinks and presents an opportunity for the larger Italian water producers that can find room in the United States thanks to our high quality products. That is, if the Trump administration doesn’t apply import taxes on ‘water’ as they have threatened to do. The market, in 2015, was worth 14.2 billion dollars, but only 1% of that was dedicated to imported water and nearly all of it was Sanpellegrino, Nestlè’s Italian brand that was capable of creating a premium segment in a country where this perception didn’t previously exist. The extremely low numbers of imported products, coupled with the fast-paced growth of the market, however, are signs of possibilities available to those who will be able to manage their marketing strategies the best.

Organic coffee capsules appealing to espresso fans

Italians are certainly well positioned to offer excellent espresso blends and are launching new packages and capsules for machines that are not just the traditional “moka” pot. Single portion capsules of the finest coffee are among the new products available in the US market, which imported 100 million of dollars worth of Italian coffee last year, a stable growth on the year before. Organic coffee will be a key addition to the pack.