Innovative hot chocolate and dessert-inspired beverages trend this Christmas

Research from Kerry, the taste and nutrition company, has shown that chocolate is the top festive beverage flavour in 2021, with consumers seeking indulgent, dessert-inspired tastes that appeal to their sense of nostalgia.

Examining over 200 limited time offerings (LTOs) across the Europe and Russia region, the new Art of Taste and Nutrition festive beverage analysis for 2021 categorises top platforms and flavours, while examining future trends and influences across the world. According to the research, the top three LTO trends are as follows:

  • Festive nostalgia: As the festive season approaches, consumers crave festive nostalgic flavours to get them in the holiday mood. This is evident with chocolate the number one flavour for 2021, followed by gingerbread, caramel and cinnamon.
  • Seasonal fruit flavours: The demand for authentic fruit taste is apparent, with seasonal flavours such as orange coming to the fore with consumers looking for more health-focused choices.
  • Dessert inspired creations: Indulgent beverage offerings are persistently popular during the festive season with dessert-inspired creations appearing across more LTOs, including rocky road, fudge brownie and red velvet.

Commenting on the new report, Aoife McDonald, Foodservice marketing director for Europe and Russia at Kerry said: “Chocolate is back on top as consumers crave familiar and nostalgic indulgent flavours in the lead up to the festive season. Our platform analysis shows an increase in hot chocolate beverages during the festive season, consisting of 25% of LTOs captured. However, consumers are seeking something new and exciting in their beverages and we saw innovation in this space around pairing chocolate with flavours like cherry and cinnamon.

“We have seen a rise in dessert-inspired beverages, but brands need to focus on creating an LTO that is not only indulgent but adds up to an overall experience for the consumer. The festive season calls for an extra spark of magic, with consumers looking for a beverage that is attractive to look at and post on social media. Outlets are creating premium offerings by linking flavours with well-known confectionary brands for Christmas, and we predict that consumers will seek more of these experiences in the future. This can be created in numerous ways including flavour combinations, packaging, and even added extras to create a truly premium LTO for the holiday season,” she added.

Future trends

With thoughts turning to 2022, Kerry’s proprietary insights tool Trendspotter predicts more demand for local dessert-inspired creations including shortcake in the UK, cinnabon in Sweden and croquembouche in France. With consumers seeking functional health support, Trendspotter also identified matcha as an up-and-coming flavour due to its link to physical and mental health.

“As the consumer trend for health and wellness continues to grow in the aftermath of the pandemic, consumers are seeking out flavours that have not only immunity benefits but also mental health benefits. Our Kerry proprietary research into functional beverages for mental wellbeing found that the top three most important health concerns for consumers are immunity, mental health and calming and relaxation. Matcha was shown to have a calming effect on consumers with 65% accepting matcha as a calming/relaxing ingredient within beverages. We have seen this flavour appear in LTOs this year combined with white chocolate,” added Ms McDonald.

“With trends constantly evolving, it is important to stay ahead through innovation in 2022. With brands seeking to capture Christmas cheer and create winning concepts, Kerry can identify the new flavours and formats that will win consumer preference by leveraging our leading insights and integrated solutions.”

Download the Art of Taste Festive report here.

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