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Fresh and fermented: Organic beverage growth bubbles over in 2017

An interest in gut health, sugar reduction and fresh options are pushing the organic beverage market forward.

In its annual report on trends in the organic industry, the Organic Trade Association found that one of the hottest categories is beverages—fresh juices in particular.

According to the OTA’s 2018 Organic Industry Survey, organic beverage sales rose 10.5 percent last year to $5.9 billion, ranking beverages as the third-largest organic category.

“Gone are the days when beverage cases were dominated by sodas and straight juice, and quenching thirst and refreshment were the only reasons to drink a beverage,” the report said. “Now there are opportunities to introduce flavors and benefits, functionality, probiotics, enzymes, herbal materials and healthy fat.”

As interest in gut health and low-sugar content have continued to grow, they’ve helped feed these opportunities. With people learning about the human microbiome and the gut-brain connection, kombucha has remained popular, and other fermented drinks such as kefir and gut shots—like Good Belly’s probiotic drinks—have proliferated. Non-dairy milk alternatives—think almond, coconut and other blends—also gained in 2017.

And no surprise here: high-pressure processing technologies are behind much of the growth in fresh juices and drinks, even surpassing canned and bottled juice drink sales for the first time. Fresh juices and drinks reported $1.2 billion in sales in 2017, representing 24.5 percent growth and the fifth straight year of high double-digit growth. “Still, in the competitive marketplace of fresh juices, there was some attrition; Grimmway/Cal-Organic stopped making its True Organic line of fresh juices,” the report noted. Canned and bottled juice drinks, meanwhile, experienced 3.7 percent growth, which OTA described as the slowest rise this subcategory has seen since 2009.

Basically: innovative is in. Beverages continue to be an area of rapid innovation and adaptation of health trends.  

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