CHICAGO -- U.S. consumers have been drinking fewer purchased beverages for the past decade, but they turn to the beverage standards of coffee, soft drinks, milk, iced tea or bottled water when they do, according to recent NPD Group and Technomic studies.
There are 72 fewer in-home or away-from-home occasions per person annually when a purchased beverage is consumed today than there was a decade ago. It’s not that consumers are only drinking tap water; there still are about 1,100 beverage occasions per person a year, which equates to about three nontap water drinks a day, according to NPD Group’s tracking of U.S. consumer’s eating and drinking behaviors.
Here's how consumer preferences break down today ...
Brewed coffee and specialty coffee are the leading beverages consumed at home. A wide variety of coffee appliances have enabled gourmet coffee results in-home. Craft coffee brewing, such as using pour-over cones, French presses and vacuum brewers, is how many U.S. young adults, ages 18 and older, brew their coffee at home. Although brewed coffee and specialty coffee don’t hold the No. 1 spot away from home, the category ranks a respectable second in the top beverages consumed at restaurants and other foodservice outlets.
Carbonated soft drinks
Even though consumption of regular and diet soft drinks has been on the decline, carbonated soft drinks still are a top revenue-generating beverage consumed. Soft drinks remain the No. 1 beverage consumed at restaurants and other commercial foodservice outlets with 18 billion servings ordered in the year ending February 2016.
Carbonated beverages are the second-most-consumed purchased beverage at home, which is evidenced by the significant shelf space carbonated beverages capture at many supermarkets.
Milk and iced tea rank third as top beverages consumed in-home and away from home, respectively, but these categories haven’t realized the growth that bottled water has in the past decade. Bottled water is a top-growing beverage category in-home and away from home and is the only beverage category consumed at home with a meaningful increase in the past 10 years.
The category has had an equally strong showing away from the home. Servings of bottled plain and sparkling (seltzer) water ordered at restaurants and other foodservice outlets increased by 12% in the year ending February 2016 compared to the same period last year. Case shipments of bottled water shipped from broadline foodservice distributors to commercial and noncommercial foodservice outlets increased by 6% in in the same period compared to a year ago.
Technomic, a consumer-data resource, found similar patterns in beverage consumption overall, and took it further, narrowing the options down to convenience stores with retailer meal solutions.
There, Technomic found, "leading beverages at c-stores tend to be energy boosting; it's one of the top five reasons why consumers purchase beverage from c-stores," according to the 2016 Beverage Consumer Trend Report.
Asked "What beverages did you purchase or were provided with [a c-store meal] in the past month?" consumers said:
- Regular soft drink 47%
- Regular hot coffee 20%
- Diet soft drink 18%
- Plain bottled still water 11%
- Packaged iced tea 8%