Category Spotlight: Smoothies

Category Spotlight: Smoothies

Smoothies have become ubiquitous, often the beverage of choice for health-conscious adults and trend-setting teens alike. Their benefits are many, mostly health-related, such as that they contain fiber, are often low in carbohydrates if they don’t include sugar in their ingredients, and are perceived as healthier than fruit juice.

Smoothies accounted for 22.6 million in dollar sales in grocery stores last year, up 84 percent over the previous year, according to Nielsen data. The global smoothie market is expected to achieve an impressive CAGR of nearly 9 percent by 2022, according to market research by Technavio. Much of the growth is due to consumers’ demand for healthier food and beverage alternatives, with fruit-based smoothies accounting for the largest segment of the global smoothie market.

Technavio also released the top smoothie market trends to watch. It’s no surprise that organic has also hit the smoothie category, and the resulting products are rich in minerals and antioxidants that also boost the price point. Gluten-free is another top food trend that’s impacting smoothies, with the common reasons for choosing gluten-free smoothies being weight management and digestive health issues.

As the food market in general becomes more global in flavor and spice, so, too, does the smoothie category. Increasingly, herbs like rosemary, basil, cayenne, cilantro, fennel or turmeric are being added to smoothies to create bolder flavors or add a warm kick to cool drinks. With the addition of savory spices, smoothies have also become more than a quick pick-me-up and are instead being consumed as a meal replacement. Many consumers are turning to smoothies as a convenient way to consume fruit, vegetables and superfoods, and are opting for them instead of cereal for breakfast or salads for lunch.

While the allure of smoothies has long been the fact that they’re portable and easy to consume on the go, smoothie bowls are lighting up social media feeds due to the addition of highly photogenic flowers, seeds, fruits and other toppings.

Bowls, which are often thicker than traditional smoothies, frequently contain superfoods like flax or chia seeds, goji berries, and hemp protein. The added nutrients of these superfoods are also helping drive the meal replacement trend. Further, the concept of superfoods as health boosters is a draw for smoothies that incorporate such ingredients. Acai, chia seeds and protein can transform a simple smoothie into a functional supplement by boosting the immune system.


Read our in-depth analysis of some of the other categories in this year's study, including:

Even CPG companies are introducing their own smoothie bowls. Kraft Heinz recently launched Fruitlove, a spoonable, single-serving smoothie that combines yogurt with three or more fruits and vegetables. Similarly, earlier this year, Dole debuted Spoonable Smoothies that are sold frozen.

Another trend driving the popularity of smoothies is that they’re often totally customizable — a big draw for today’s consumer. Popular additions to smoothies include protein, probiotics, vitamins, nuts, minerals, grains and seeds. The customization can begin with the base as consumers turn to an increasing number of options beyond milk and nut milks like almond and cashew. Other alternatives can include oat, pea, hemp and coconut milks. Bone broth is another popular smoothie additive, as it’s purported to promote gut health, relieve arthritis, boost weight loss, and be high in collagen to improve hair, skin and nails.

In addition, consumers are turning to a wider variety of colorful vegetables to add flavor to the more traditional favorites of spinach and kale. Some popular options are beets, pumpkins, cabbage and carrots. Health concerns often drive smoothie sales, but the addition of alcohol for an alternative adult beverage is gaining traction in the category. Also, while seasonal fruits will always be favorite ingredients, exotic fruits like yuzu are gaining popularity.

Activated charcoal, which is a growing health trend, is also having an effect on the smoothie category. The ingredient creates a sweet and creamy beverage when added to smoothies, as well as providing naturally detoxifying benefits.

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