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Soft Drink Flavor Profile Trends

Posted: May 12, 2008

In hot summer weather, ice-cold carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) can provide the utmost refreshment. But as consumers look for healthier, more natural beverages, CSDs have taken a hit. Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) sees companies looking to new flavors and ingredients to refresh their CSD lines. Though cola and citrus formulations remain popular, leading global manufacturers are bringing natural contents and exotic tastes to their new CSD products.

Using real fruit juice has become a common way for manufacturers to "add a drop of health" into their new CSD products. Carbonated drinks face fierce competition from healthy, vitamin-enhanced juices, energy drinks and fortified waters. By formulating CSDs with real juice, manufacturers can project a healthier image and appeal to health-conscious drinkers. In the United States, Wild Oats Markets features a Natural Pink Grapefruit Italian Soda. The soda contains 12% juice and is also available in lemon, raspberry and orange passion mango flavors.

Rubicon likewise features a Sparkling Juice Drink under its Sun Exotic brand in the United Kingdom. Available in a Tropical flavor, the sparkling juice contains seven different tropical fruits and has an 11% real fruit juice content. To add to its healthy positioning, the packaging notes that Sun Exotic is free of artificial sweeteners. 

Another way CSD manufacturers are increasing the health profiles of their products is by playing on the popularity of antioxidant-rich superfruits. As superfruits like cranberries, pomegranates and blueberries become more popular across all food and beverage categories, CSD manufacturers are including them for a healthier-seeming product. During the 2007 holiday season, Cadbury Schweppes released pomegranate-flavored 7-Up in the United States. With 100% natural flavors, no caffeine and low sodium, the CSD was undoubtedly marketed toward consumers seeking a healthier alternative to a traditional soft drink.

Quanshun Beer in China also uses a popular superfruit flavor to appeal to consumers’ changing tastes and health concerns. Its King Benefit Blueberry soda is said to be refreshing and tasty. It retails in a 345 mL can.