Milk is current highest, bottled water and smoothies are on the rise.
Milk does a body good, and it also helps operators’ bottom line. Milk, at 18%, makes up the highest sales percentage of beverages for non-commercial operators, according to The Big Picture research. Milk’s sales were buoyed in large part by school and LTC/senior living locations. When it comes to beverage sales’ potential in the next two years, bottled water and smoothies rise to the top. Tea and energy drinks are seen as a growth area for contract management companies, B&I and colleges, while schools and healthcare say fruit juice shows growth potential. LTC/senior living operators, at 39%, were the most likely to say they expect no growth in any beverage category.
Hospitals and LTC/senior living
Operators in hospitals and senior living locations are fans of fruit juice’s potential, with 12% and 22% respectively saying they expect growth in that category. Health concerns and increased variety are two of the reasons healthcare operators are citing for this growth. However, 39% of LTC/senior living operators say they do not expect growth in any beverage category. Rich Tallis, assistant director for Sodexo at Orchard Manor, in Grove City, Pa., says he thinks that may be because LTC/senior living facilities are starting to offer pitchers of water at meals more frequently.
Smoothies and tea are areas of beverage growth for the contract/B&I market segments. Contract management headquarters—60%—expect smoothies to see significantly more sales in the next two years than other market segments do. Tea is also expected to grow, with 42% of contract companies/B&I operators citing this category for increased sales. Health is the motivating factor behind the predicted growth in both beverage categories. Gary Coutre, Sodexo’s general manager at Siemens in Buffalo Grove, Ill., says he believes the wide variety of tea flavors, along with its health factor, has contributed to the beverage’s growth.
College operators think their customers want a jolt, with 35% of operators reporting that energy drinks will grow and 33% saying specialty coffee will. Tea is also predicted to be a growing category because of its health benefits; 20% of university operators plan to see tea sales grow. Edward Krol, executive chef, Youngstown State University in Ohio, says increased customer awareness, along with the perceived health benefits of tea versus carbonated beverages, is resulting in interest from students.
It’s no surprise that milk is schools’ No. 1 beverage growth category, at 45%. Child nutrition operators also named fruit juice and bottled water as growth categories, with 37% of operators each pegging those beverages. A Michigan-based contract school operator, who asked not to be named, says he believes the growth will happen in those areas due to the changes in the National School Lunch Program. “With the emphasis on [healthier options], along with stricter guidelines on what can be offered on à la carte lines, it’s logical that [operators] will follow those trends to make more options available that still meet the new requirements,” he says.