Adding Fruit to Beer and Alcohol Products

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With the growing popularity of juice-infused beer, wine and spirits come industry innovations and operational challenges

KerryDigest Fast Facts:

  • Between 2017 and 2012, North America experienced a 32% increase in flavored beer launches, according to Mintel GNPD.
  • “Juice” is now on 45% of all alcoholic beverage menus, an increase of 19% over four years, according to Datassential.
  • Despite the demand for fruit-flavored beverages and juice infusions in alcohol, brands face significant operational obstacles, from storage to taste.
  • New innovations designed to capture the taste of natural juice may help to solve the common problems that occur when adding fruit to beer and alcohol.
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KerryDigest Full Scoop:

Of-age U.S. consumers want more adventurous, fresh-tasting and naturally-flavored alcoholic beverage options, says Chika Ezeani, Brewmaster for Kerry North America. From grapefruit flavored beer to pineapple flavored vodka, people are thirsty to try new and exciting drinks, including juice infusions in alcohol. Between 2012 and 2017, flavored beer launches grew by 32% in North America and “juice” is now listed as an ingredient on 45% of all stateside alcoholic beverage menus.

But crafting made-to order cocktails is one thing and producing a juice-infused packaged drink products is quite another. When it comes to adding fruit to beer and alcoholic beverages, consumer demand can at times outpace brand capabilities. Here’s an in-depth look at the trend of adding fruit to beer and alcohol, including a primer on consumer preferences and a summary of operational challenges and solutions for brands that want to make juice-infused drinks. 

The Juice-Infused Alcohol Health-Halo

Juice-infused alcohol isn’t just trending because of flavor—there is also a perceived health benefit in drinks that contain juice. This trend speaks to the nearly 85% of U.S. consumers who want more natural and less processed foods, such as those that are labeled as “made with real ingredients.” Case in point: in the beverage category, products that claim to be “made with real juice” are rapidly growing, according to recent Nielsen data.

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“I’m finding the appeal of fruit juice infusions is coming from the demand for natural sugars and from an interest in finding an alternative to artificially flavored spirits,” says Joey Torkelson, Beverage Mixologist and Applications Manager at Kerry North America. “This plays well with the keto craze and gives consumers a healthier option than soda. Juices and juice infusions and extracts add the ‘health-halo’ to alcoholic beverages, taking guilt out of the equation.”

Fruit-Flavored Beer Trends and Complications

As consumers continue to explore the world of beer, fruit-flavored brews are becoming more and more popular. According to a recent study from Mintel, 27% of U.S. adults say they would purchase fruit-flavored beers, compared to 25% who say they would purchase plain brews. Twice as many alcoholic beverages with juice were launched in 2017 than in 2013, according to Mintel GNPD.

Handling the aseptic juices often used in such beers can cause operational difficulties, including problems around storage, thawing, refrigerating, pumping and maintaining flavor, all while increasing contamination risk, as Ezeani detailed in a recent KerryDigest article on beer trends. Due to these logistical problems, many manufacturers are looking for natural flavor alternatives that are easier to work with than traditional refrigerated juices.

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Juice-infused Alcohol—A New and Novel Experience

Consumers in search of a new experience or flavor are also driving the juice-infused alcohol trend. According to GlobalData, 60% of alcohol consumers around the globe find trying new experiences—such as sipping on new and novel drinks—to be exciting. A sense of adventure and exploration is driving consumers of all ages, especially Millennials, 51% of whom say that curiosity motivates them to try new flavors of alcoholic beverages.

On-trend exotic and citrus flavors can elevate flavor fusions in beer, wine and spirits. Our recent 2019 Kerry Taste Charts identifies the most popular emerging, up & coming, key and mainstream tastes and flavours, including in the alcoholic beverage category.

Innovations Designed for Juice-Infused Alcohol Products

While adding whole fruit juice is an option for many alcohol products, it doesn’t work in every application. And, new innovations are making obsolete the need to ship, purchase, store and use fresh juice before its expiration date. What’s more, many of these juice-based products can be added to beverages that are labeled with “no artificial colors,” “made with real juice” and “organic.”

Natural fruit extracts and flavors, such as those in our Simply Nature portfolio, meet consumer demand for authentic, reliably-sourced, sustainable taste solutions. Flavorists work with ingredients including lime, strawberry, acai and tangerine to create flavors that can be applied across alcoholic beverages and are easy to use and store.

Fruit crystals provide a similarly authentic juice taste, but in powder form. Kerry’s Crystals® are made from juice through a patented, low heat continuous-vacuum process that maintains the color, flavor, acidity and nutritional properties of the original juice. Products such as this are compact and easy to store, yet rehydrate instantly with no clumping.

For more information about Kerry’s flavor products and taste expertise, including our consumer research and sensory insights around alcohol, contact Kerry.

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