Reading Time: 9 minutes
By: Mike Lojkutz, Director of Innovation
Introducing our new antioxidant, electrolyte and vitamin infusions juice and tea-based concentrate line, All Friends Beverage
The inspiration of creating this ‘better for you’ and better for the environment beverage offering
The ‘better for you’ beverage trend among Millennials and Gen Z
After over two years of work, we’re launching All Friends Beverage, our antioxidant, electrolyte and vitamin infusions, and it honestly feels really great. It’s the best thing to happen to beverage since the ice cube; beverages that tastes amazing, has immunity, hydration and energy boosting properties, uses real fruit juices, uses only real sugar at about half of what is out there in the majority of beverages available in foodservice establishments and includes no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. They come in packaging that is made from nearly entirely renewable plant-based sources are concentrates so that we ship less water and consequently minimize our carbon footprint impact, are shelf stable which reduces energy consumption, and, did I mention, are insanely delicious?!?
When we had the idea for what would become All Friends Beverage back in 2019, the world was a different place. What was a large segment of American consumers is still a growing segment of American consumers making it abundantly clear that food and beverage that we feel good about putting into our bodies is the way of the future. According to Datassential, 90% of consumers are interested in “functional” foods and beverages and 78% of restaurants want to offer more food and beverage with functional benefits. We also LOVE to get out of the house, and while some of our habits have been changed in the last few years, the beverage landscape at Fast Casual and Quick Service restaurants largely has not. All Friends Beverage fills the gap that exists between what consumers want and what restaurant operators want to offer. With All Friends Beverage, operators have the opportunity to meet people where they want to be, allowing them to take those steps towards a healthier, more balanced lifestyle and enjoy doing it – all while strengthening their brand.
We launch with six offerings: Strawberry Hibiscus, Blueberry Chai, Mango Chili, Pineapple Ginger, Farmstand Lemonade and Black Tea. We’ve added antioxidants, electrolytes (except in the black tea) and vitamins to each one as well; enough to meet the standard of “Excellent source” for vitamins C, B3, B5, B6, B12, E, Zinc and Selenium in both the US and Canada. For us, it’s about being part of a more balanced lifestyle and setting a better beverage standard.
We also kept operations in mind, which is why we designed them to be simple and flexible. In their purest form, they are a 3+1 concentrate that can be simply diluted with still or sparkling water to be incredibly delicious. We also wanted them to fit into operators’ existing programs, so we put them through the ringer; frozen beverage machines, bubbler machines, frothed, blended with ice, yogurt, plant based alt-milks, as mocktails, as cocktails, with hot tea, iced tea, cold brew, lemonade, carbonated, hot chocolates and on and on. You name it, we tried it. What’s happened is exciting discovery after exciting discover; All Friends works in nearly any application we threw at them, with of course, some less than others and some happy accidents along the way. What excites us is how customizable the product is and how easy it is to use. With the current labor, supply chain and inflationary pressures, on top of pandemic regulations (depending on where you live) that are thrown on the already difficult landscape that operators are faced with, offering a simple solution that helps attract customers is very important to us. Because of how flexible it is, offering new and unique core beverages and exciting and unique LTO’s have never been easier.
Further, we looked into what is the most important thing to people when it comes specifically to functional beverage and found that immunity boosting products are of major interest right now. According to Mintel, there has been a 500% increase in Google search for immunity in food and beverage, which is massive! According to The Hartman Groups on Functional Food & Beverage and supplement report^, immunity is the #2 attribute consumers are looking for in functional beverages, behind general prevention. Additionally, the functional space is forecasted to grow to over $1 trillion dollars by 2023, according to the Business Research Company*, which is again, massive. When looking at where the vast majority of those dollars are being spent, it’s not in the foodservice space. Shouldn’t foodservice operators be getting in on that pie? We strongly believe operators who have these types of offerings will draw more consumers into their establishments and into their digital world. Even with all that, we know that the most important thing to consumers when choosing any food or beverage is taste and we’re incredibly proud of the flavor, aroma and appearance of All Friends. No corners have been cut here!
Who is looking for these types of offerings? The drivers are Millennials and Gen Z, who spend more on functional food and beverage than any other generational groups, and their purchasing power continues to grow. Through consumer panels, we validated and optimized All Friends Beverages to make sure that they do in fact drive these two groups to say they are interested in the items and would be willing to purchase them vs other non-alcoholic beverage options.
Our vision with All Friends Beverage is to shape an inspired future, which means as a company we have the responsibility of living at the intersection of consumers and operators and we strongly feel we are there with All Friends. Being the third leg in the tripod, so to speak, means that we must listen to what consumers and operators are telling us and provide solutions to meet their needs instead of telling them what they need based on our interests, and that is why I am so proud of what our small and abundantly energetic innovation team has created.
All Friends answers the rising demand for delicious, ‘better for you’ beverage options, especially among Millennials and Gen-Z, who control the largest share of dollars in the quick service and fast casual space. We reimagined functional beverage to be craveable and outrageously delicious by embracing the way consumers want to eat and drink today, while keeping the restaurant operator in mind. We’ve created refreshing, on-trend flavors to pair with the limited-service segments food offerings and we are packing All Friends in aseptic, plant based, plastic-free packaging that uses recycled paper – raising the industry bar on both product quality and responsible packaging solutions. So whether you eat in restaurants or run them, we cannot wait for you to taste All Friends Beverage for yourself.
Source 1 | Source 2