Drinking to health

Like the coffee culture that percolated over the last two decades, made-to-order juices promise to be the next wave of liquid gold. Unlike flavored and sugary beverages, fresh juices, smoothies and tea blends will also bring easy, portable nutrition to more diets.

cold pressed juice

Throughout the foodservice industry, traditional sodas are losing space to better-for-you drinks, in both made-to-order and bottled formats. At Mad Greens, a fast-casual salad chain, the Bright Buzz Juice blends apple, carrot and pineapple juice with bee pollen for an energy and immune system boost. In upscale grocery stores, bottled options such as raw juice blends and enhanced waters are attracting the eyes of health-conscious customers.

As with all industry trends, non-commercial settings should never be far behind, and many have already taken a dip into juicing culture. Jim Mazzaraco, executive chef at Corning, Inc., a Corning, New York-based materials science company, has seen healthful drinks grow steadily at the company’s on-premise cafes.

“We have ‘superfood stations’ at a few of our eight campus cafes, and freshly squeezed juices have been popular. People who understand fresh juicing have been very responsive to it, so we keep adding more and more ingredients,” Mazzaraco says. “Local and organic ingredients are important to our diners. There’s been a big call for fresh ginger as an add-in. It’s a best seller because of energizing and health benefits.”

Ginger falls in line with the functional attributes that consumers are demanding. Jennifer Aranas, project director at Chicago-based research firm Datassential, finds that so far, the list of popular boosts and enhancements are ingredients that provide a better-for-you energy perception. She lists organic or herbal sources of caffeine, organic and all-natural sweeteners/sugars, ginger, guarana, ginseng and B-vitamins as the first to emerge.

Liquefying meal options

So far, replacing meals with beverages is still an emerging pattern, but experts see more potential on the horizon. Aranas notes that when consuming smoothies and shakes as snack, protein seems to be top-of-mind for consumers. Common protein-packed ingredients include familiar sources such as yogurt, peanut butter, almond and coconut milk and vegetables.   

“I don’t see health drinks replacing meals for many diners, but they are becoming a bigger part of a meal,” says Mazzaraco, who notes that a juice and oatmeal combination is a more typical breakfast, and juice and a salad are a popular lunch pairing.

Ingredients such as broccoli sprout powder, avocado pit powder, camu camu powder, sea vegetables and sea oils are some of the super add-ins of the near future, according to Melina Romero, associate strategist of Trend Practice at CDD Innovation in San Francisco. These types of trendy ingredients, while novel, provide a unique opportunity for operators: Because most consumers aren’t quite ready to add their own vegetable powders to drinks, many rely on foodservice sources for these enhanced beverages

“With consumers demanding function from foods more than ever before, we see opportunity for add-in and boosts to deliver on function,” Romero says. “We see potential, specifically with fruit and vegetable add-ins—especially because of their health halos.”

This post is sponsored by Campbell's Foodservice