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Top five themes reshaping the soft drinks sector over 2021/2022, according to GlobalData

After a tumultuous 18-month period following the COVID-19 pandemic, the global soft drinks market is expected to grow by 3.6%* in 2021 to 898.5 billion litres compared to 2020, primarily driven by energy drinks and iced/RTD tea style beverages. In order to navigate this developing market, GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, has identified five key themes: veganism, digestive health, functionality, sustainability, and premiumization.

Holly Inglis, Beverages Analyst at GlobalData, explains how these themes are set to transform the industry over the next year:

Plant-based proteins

“Veganism has marked its place in the global soft drinks market, with plant-based drinks and soy milk seeing extensive innovations throughout 2021 already, due to it being perceived as healthier, and tapping into sustainability, with iced/RTD coffee brands innovating dairy-free alternatives. Social media and those in smart and connected cities have helped to drive this trend, with applications like TikTok encouraging peers to try new products and flavors, especially within vegan or flexi social spheres.”

Digestive health

“In line with GlobalData’s most recent consumer survey, 74%** of people globally agree that ingredients that aid digestive health are somewhat or very appealing to them. This represents a significant opportunity, and one that some manufacturers are already leveraging. In the US, VitaminWell launched a new variant to its range called ‘gutsy’, which is stated to contain a prebiotic fibre that has benefits to gut health. Demand for digestive health has been boosted by the catastrophic effects that were caused by COVID-19, with consumers now focusing on improving their physical and mental well-being.”

Functional and fortified

“Despite historically receiving backlash over high sugar and additive content, functional beverages that support supplementary energy boosting ingredients have seen an increase in both production and consumption, with energy drinks growing globally by 3%* in 2020. Impressively, this was the only soft drinks category to see growth during the COVID-19 restrictions. In May 2021, UK-based brand Good Earth launched a natural energy drink, which is claimed to be vegan, organic and containing only natural ingredients, which also positions this beverage type to merge with other consumer trends in wellness and digestive health.”


“Sustainability is arguably one of the most discussed topics in terms of beverages. Recycled PET has gained the most chatter in terms of innovations, with glass following suit, though glass packaged products are not always the most convenient, especially in terms of on-the-go usage. The recent launch of a ‘BottleCan’—an aluminium pack that is both recyclable and sustainable—from Jimmy’s Coffee in the UK emphasises something different and will appeal to consumers who are both eco-conscious and attempting to try something ‘new’.”


“Consumers want it all, and this is where the premium angle comes in. Across the globe, consumers are moving towards holistic digestion, and are consuming beverages that not only promote wellness, but support active lifestyles; they want products that are both socially and environmentally conscious, and thus contain more luxurious ingredient bases. These added-value features help brands to strike a chord with consumers in an increasingly competitive environment.”

Inglis concludes: “The future is bright for soft drinks in the long-term, provided that manufacturers continue to adopt best practices, in line with consumer trends.”

Source: GlobalData
Photo: ©iStockphoto | ANGHI

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