The new grab-and-go beverage opportunity

grab and go beverage

From DanoneWave Away From Home.

With today’s diners prioritizing convenience and eating on the go, opportunities for operators to capitalize on consumers’ need to get in and out quickly are increasing—and not just for food.

According to Technomic’s 2016 Beverage Consumer Trend Report, powered by Ignite, consumers purchase an average of 3.6 drinks away from home every week. Additionally, 42% of consumers say they have ordered a prepackaged cold or iced coffee drink, such as cold brew coffee, in the last month. With numbers like these, the time is right for operators to offer what consumers are after—convenient, tasty drinks that they can grab and take with them on the go.

The need for quick and convenient

While consumers’ on-the-go tendencies are nothing new, some foodservice directors are still working hard to ensure their consumers’ specific needs are met.

Michael Baux, the Sodexo operations manager at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in Houston,  notes the popularity of cold-brew coffee, and says that the grab and go option gives consumers one less thing to worry about throughout their busy day, because they can pick up a drink,  a mid-morning snack and a sandwich for lunch all at the same time.

Beyond convenience, grab-and-go beverage offerings are more diverse than ever, with specialty drinks, energy drinks, premium coffees and teas, vegetable and fruit juices, non-dairy/plant-based milks and much more lining the coolers of foodservice convenience stores and cafeterias. Offering these grab-and-go options at locations that are open late—or even 24 hours a day—provides a great business-building opportunity.

What are consumers drinking?

Within the healthcare segment, it’s no surprise that some consumers are looking for drinks that are better for them—Baux says that a large majority of younger consumers have an increased demand for healthier options, but says coffee beverages are always popular regardless. There’s also been movement toward other options, including specialty water, organic teas, ready-to-drink cold-brew coffee and natural antioxidant beverages.

Beyond the usual, expected offerings, it’s important for operators to sell a variety of new options. “Our consumers constantly want variety and to try new things,” Baux says. “They like to experiment and sample new products.”

In the Technomic Beverage Report, consumers said that the top five beverages they’d like to try are watermelon water (33% of consumers), coconut water (27%), a beverage with acai berry (22%), cold-brew coffee (22%) and green juices (17%)—and for consumers 18-34, those percentages were higher for each.

While younger consumers may be trending toward healthier beverages, one thing’s for sure—grab-and-go food and beverages aren’t going anywhere. “We’ve seen an increase in grab-and-go trending around a 50% growth over the past few years,” Baux says.

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