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Revealing the New Beverage Flavor: Spices, herbs and more.

7 2021

More innovative flavors, more unusual packaging – today’s consumers are looking for exciting beverage products that pique their interest, match their lifestyle and values, and are a little different from the norm. For Millennials and Gen Z, in particular, “Instagrammable” beverages – drinks that are both pleasing to the eye and interesting to the pallet,  are in great demand.

Integrating new and exotic flavors helps beverage manufacturers and bottlers grab the interest of consumers. And for this reason, in 2021 spices and herbs are being used more in beverage products for their taste, sheer variety, and perceived health benefits.

The pandemic is also contributing to the growing interest in spiced beverages. Many consumers who are stuck at home and can’t travel overseas because of COVID-19 limitations enjoy getting a small taste of adventure by buying globally inspired beverage flavors.

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Keeping Wellness Front and Center with Beverages with Spices and Herbs

This year, there’s an even greater interest in beverages that not only quench thirst and taste great, but also improve your health. COVID-19 has encouraged all of us to be more focused on health, and current interest in adding healthy spices and herbs in drinks is a clear reflection of this consumer trend.

Manufacturers are seeking to add “functionality” to products by adding a touch of natural herb extracts to more common fruit flavors. Bottom line: More spicy and sharp flavors are being integrated into sweet, carbonated soft drinks (CSDs).

RC Cola’s latest eBook – Beverage Trends for 2021 – points out that consumer interest in Clean Label products – a hot trend in 2020, continues to grow in 2021. In fact, natural food flavors and colors are expected to register a 1.8% CAGR between 2020 and 2025 (in terms of revenue – see MarketResearch.com). 

The focus on Clean Label means there continues to be interest in whatever is perceived as being more natural – and spices and herbs fall into this category.

Let’s hear it for 6 of the hottest spices and herbs being used in the beverage industry:

  1. Cinnamon


There’s a certain nostalgia surrounding cinnamon which is used to add a sweet, warm flavor to foods and drinks. Cinnamon has a particularly long history: One of the oldest spices, it was used over 3,000 years ago by the Egyptians and it’s even mentioned in the Bible. 

Today, cinnamon is used not just in the food and beverage industry but also in the pharmaceutical trade. Most cinnamon is grown in Sri Lanka, though it can also be found in China, Java, Sumatra, Africa, South America, and Mexico. 

Health benefits of cinnamon include lowering blood sugar levels, reducing heart disease risk factors, fighting bacterial and fungal infections, improving sensitivity to insulin (for type 2 diabetes), reducing growth rates of certain types of cancer cells, and more.

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  1.     Ginger


Long a favorite addition to alcoholic drinks,  think ginger-infused cocktails, rum, vodka, and more – ginger adds a special warmth that is becoming increasingly popular in the soft drinks  industry, as well. Ginger is known for a variety of health benefits: It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties as well as the ability to calm nausea, help sore muscles, lower blood sugar and cholesterol, ease indigestion, and even curb the growth of some types of cancer.

  1. Cardamom


Do you like to drink chai? If so, you must be a fan of cardamom. Common in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Arabic dishes, this earthy spice has been used for centuries in curries, desserts, and meat dishes, and in drinks such as chai tea and coffee – as well as for medicinal purposes. 

Cardamom has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It supports the health of the heart, liver, gums, and teeth, slows the growth rate of certain types of cancer cells, and helps prevent ulcers.

  1. Lemongrass


With its citrus-like scent and flavor, lemongrass – a well-loved Thai flavor – has become a favorite in a variety of beverages, from Mojito cocktails to hot and iced teas. Lemongrass can be found throughout Southeast Asia – from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos to Myanmar and Indonesia. 

According to Dave’s Spice, it is ideally added to drinks with cinnamon, chilies, ginger, pear and coconut milk. Lemongrass has a range of health benefits: It has antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, promotes healthy digestion, acts as a diuretic, reduces risk of certain types of cancer, and lowers systolic blood pressure and heart rate. And for the fun of it you can, try using the stalk of fresh lemongrass as a straw.

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  1. Cloves


Traditionally served in apple cider, clove water, and chai tea, cloves are rich in vitamin C and K, fiber, manganese, and antioxidants. A popular spice in Indian kitchens that’s a common addition to special holiday drinks, cloves offer a sharp flavor and fragrant aroma. 

They’re harvested from the clove tree’s dried flower buds and are known for a variety of health benefits – supporting weight loss, fighting dental issues, regulating blood sugar levels, reducing nausea, and treating pain and inflammation.

  1. Turmeric


Turmeric has been used for its powerful healing properties for centuries. It is widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties and as a natural painkiller, metabolism booster and antidepressant. Turmeric can help reduce symptoms from hay fever, depression, high cholesterol, certain kinds of liver disease, heartburn, memory skills, and inflammatory bowel disease. 

It’s said to boost the immune system and can help reduce the risk of certain cancers and diabetes. As one of the hottest health beverage trends 2021, turmeric is used today in many beverages including coffee, lattes, mochas, hot chocolate, apple cider, hand-pressed juices – and even chicken broth.

Go Local, but Choose Your Spices with Care

If you’re interested in spicing up beverage portfolio, look locally for inspiration, but be careful with your choices. Find out: What will local consumers get excited about? How far do you think they will be willing to go? You will need to learn about what kinds of spices are going to appeal to your consumer base.

RC Cola’s Jeera is a good example of a spicy beverage product developed as a local favorite. Jeera is a refreshing soda with a taste of cumin, which was specifically crafted for our south Asian and central Asian markets. First released in 2012, Jeera is popular for both its taste and for the health benefits of drinking cumin – a rich source of iron that has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, promotes digestion and weight loss, and may help with improving blood cholesterol and diabetes.

Don’t forget to consider the cost, in dollars and cents, of incorporating natural spices and herbs into your products. It is essential to check pricing in detail and ensure that, with the new ingredients you add, a beverage product is positioned at a price point that works.

Grow Your Beverage Business with RC Cola by Staying on Trend!

As pointed out in this earlier blog on trends in Europe, growth is not consistent throughout the beverage industry. What’s key is to be on trend in order to effectively capitalize on where in the industry you can expect to see growth. Learning about the hottest trends is a first step in ensuring that your business taps into industry growth so you increase your revenue and market share.

Today’s consumers expect and demand innovation in five areas: health, physical strength and capabilities, pleasure, convenience, and ethics. Knowing where consumer interest lies is key, and RC Cola has expertise in understanding beverage trends and stays on top of what’s hottest in the beverage industry – and we can help you identify the right innovative flavors and products to add to your current beverage portfolio. 

Want to learn more? Download our latest eBook, The 6 biggest Beverage Trends for 2021, for information about health beverage trends in 2021.