Beverages have always been an integral component of the foodservice industry. In recent years, an increasing focus on health has been pushing operators to create better-for-you beverages, such as whole-fruit smoothies. Technomic’s MenuMonitor shows fruit smoothies have grown by 40% on Top 250 Canadian limited-service restaurant menus since 2012. Additionally, we are seeing beverage concepts such as Jugo Juice and Booster Juice take smoothie development to the next level by offering functional smoothies made with superfoods including cauliflower, kale and spirulina.
Tropi-Kale & Apple Squared Smoothie
Indeed, Technomic’s recently published Canadian Beverage Consumer Trend Report confirms consumer demand for healthy beverages and suggests that offering these options can be a valuable strategy for some concepts. Data shows that at least half of consumers would be more likely to purchase beverages that boast functional benefits, such as antioxidant-rich drinks and beverages that contain no artificial ingredients.
The Rest of the Story
While we expect to see more of these next-level superfood beverages, health is not necessarily top of mind for all Canadian beverage occasions. According to the recent study, while many Canadian consumers (40%) currently call for healthier beverages at restaurants, their numbers are lower than those who wanted to see these drinks on restaurant menus in 2012 (52%). Additionally, just 24% of respondents in 2014 cite healthy drinks as the most important factor when deciding where to buy a beverage.
So what’s the most significant driver of beverage occasions in Canada? Not surprisingly, convenient location and beverage taste or flavour are most likely to persuade consumers to purchase a beverage at one location over another.
Interestingly, combo meals that include beverages are the next leading traffic driver. Half of consumers (50%) say that cost-saving options such as combo meals with a beverage are most important when deciding where to purchase a beverage. Moreover, 46% of consumers today, up from 40 percent in 2012, strongly agree that they like to order value meals where the beverage is included in the price of the meal.
Tim Hortons’ combo meal that includes coffee
The data suggests that value is increasingly important for beverage occasions. Good value means different things to different consumers and can encompass low prices, convenience, portion size and bundles. Therefore, in efforts to help drive traffic and increase cheque averages, operators should consider delivering value in ways that align with the concept’s positioning.
Off-peak-hour beverage specials may be an option for some operators. Others can explore creating and marketing food-and-beverage pairings for mealparts and snack occasions throughout the day.