With classic children’s drinks in ‘terminal decline,’ Euromonitor sees uptick in water, plant-based milk

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food for kids, beverage trends

Ongoing concern about the long-term health consequences of too much sugar has many parents turning away from classic children’s beverages, and instead serving lower-calorie options traditionally considered for adults, according to recent research from Euromonitor International.

Citing findings from Euromonitor’s new ‘Building a Better Children’s Beverage’​ report, Euromonitor’s Head of Soft Drinks Howard Telford told attendees at FoodNavigator-USA’s Food For Kids Summit in Chicago last month that “sugar reduction is the number one health and nutrition priority of parents,”​ and it has sent sales of low-fruit content juices, sugar-sweetened flavored dairy and concentrates “into terminal decline.”

He explained that sales of juice drinks, where many children’s brands play, have dropped about 14% in the last ten years – which is more than the 12% decline that carbonated soft drinks have suffered during the same period. At the same time, sales of drinking milk also are down by a staggering 45%, he added.

In their place, parents are offering children the same beverages that they have favored for years, including bottled water, seltzer, plant-based milks and even kombucha, Telford said. He added that as  brands begin to revamp the packaging and marketing for these products to be more kid-friendly, their sales could take off in coming years.

“One of the things that we are starting to see in 2019 [and] one of the things I expect to accelerate considerably over the next five years is innovation in bottled water for children,”​ Telford said.

He explained that research by Euromonitor shows only about 1% of bottled water currently targets children, but he said he expects “that number is going to rise considerably”​ based on drinking trends of millennial parents, whose “routines have been completely disrupted.”

This disruption includes an growing preference not just for bottled water, but also seltzer and functional water, which Telford predicts brands soon will find a way to capitalize on for children with the addition of flavors, smaller sizes, characters on pack and more kid-friendly closures.

“Another area where we see a lot of opportunity is plant-based milk alternatives positioned for children,”​ Telford said, adding that for this segment to take off it will need to be heavily fortified to meet the nutritional requirements children need and which is currently met by dairy.

Even as plant-based gains ground, Telford argues that diary milk can regain some of its losses if it moves from commodity status to premium. An example is the recent launch of Horizon Organic’s Growing Years milk, which is fortified with DHA, choline and prebiotics to support 1- to 5-year-olds.

“This isn’t necessarily an either-or, or a zero-sum equation,”​ Telford concluded. “When it comes to consumption, there are many drinking occasions or beverage occasions for adults and children throughout the day.”

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