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How to stay ahead of the soft drinks trends in 2024

Things move fast in soft drinks. Not long ago, all that licensed and foodservice operators had to do to keep people happy was ensure they had a good supply of fizzy staples and juices. The essentials are still, well, essential, of course. But so too is offering wider ranges that satisfy drinkers’ changing needs. So how do you keep on trend in 2024?

1. Serve with style to attract experience seekers

As we explored in the 2024 Britvic Soft Drinks Review,[1] experience is everything for people when they go out to eat or drink. In these cash-strapped times, if venues don’t offer experiences that people could get at home, they risk prospective visitors doing just that: staying at home. In 2024, venues will be judged on the experience they offer more than ever.  

So, perfecting your drinks menu is crucial. So too is ensuring you serve them with style. Branded glasses for carbonates like Pepsi MAX® are a must, while chilled high-balls or copa glasses will elevate your mixed drinks. Chill with ice and get creative with garnishes. For an eye-catching, tongue-pleasing twist on the classic lemon slice, try yuzu or mandarin. Spices and herbs can give an extra ‘wow’ factor.

2. Cater for the cocktail crowd

Cocktails are a trend that will keep on giving in 2024. This is another reason why presentation is key –37% of cocktail drinkers always or nearly always post pictures of what they’re drinking on social media. The rise of cocktails also illustrates why upping your game in non-alcoholic mixed drinks will pay dividends. Growing numbers are moderating their alcohol, but they don’t want to be left out.  

J20 mocktails – Blackberry & Blueberry Martini; Strawberry & Orange Blossom Mojito; and White Peach & Mango Daiquiri ­– are a perfect solution for those looking to serve up drop dead gorgeous drinks on the fly. Britvic has also expanded its iconic range of mixers and juices with Cocktail Mixers, helping bartenders prepare perfect drinks every time, only with the addition of the chosen spirit needed. The range includes Mojito, Piña Colada and Strawberry Daiquiri mixers.

3. Personalise your offerings

Standing out from the crowd will be more important than ever in the coming year for licensed and food service venues. 38% of Brits have been going out to eat and drink less often in the past year, mostly because of the squeeze on their finances. But when they do go out, they want to do so with a bang. So, they’re thinking longer and harder about the venues they visit.

Attract the crowds with house specials (with and without alcohol). You don’t need an in-house mixologist to devise your menu – Mathieu Teisseire flavour syrups and J2O’s Spritz, and Fruit Blends allow operators to get creative and serve up personalised drinks without the faff of mixing from scratch. Get the creative juices (and drinks) flowing by browsing the Sensational Drinks platform.

4. Put the “funk” in functional health

The functional health trend is gathering pace and continuing to influence the hospitality sector. With one in three people in the UK now rarely or never drinking alcohol, more and more visitors to licensed and foodservice venues are looking for drinks that offer added health benefits, such as protein, gut friendly live bacteria, B vitamins or CBD.

Remember, people tend to be more concerned with eating and drinking healthily earlier in the day and week. Venues can drive their breakfast trade by offering the Plenish range of health shots as accompaniments to healthy breakfast options or offer Purdey’s Natural Energy Drinks, sparkling fruit juices blended with botanicals and B vitamins, to their mid-week lunch menus.

5. Pair with food

Sadly, the financial pressures of the past year are not likely to go anywhere with the turning of 2024. But people will still want to treat themselves (remember, experience is everything!). Pairing meals and snacks with drinks at attractive price points can help elevate your guests’ experience, value perception and, ultimately, the amount they spend.

Identify your bestselling food and drink, as well as those that complement each other, and offer deals for diners who pair up. You can’t go wrong with a burger and Pepsi MAX®, of course, but how about Britvic cranberry or pomegranate juice with desserts (bitter notes cut through sweetness), London Essence Company Spiced Ginger Beer with curry dishes or J2O Apple & Elderflower with fried chicken?

[1] All figures cited in this article are from the 2024 Britvic Soft Drinks Review, unless otherwise stated

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