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Excerpts from "Trends for Frozen Beverages — Time to get Creative!" by Asley Prentice

 

Many restau­rants and Cafés have focused on adding dif­fer­ent foods to expand their menu hop­ing to draw more patrons. Beverages have become the lat­est medium for oper­a­tors look­ing to drive sales and increase prof­its. Many fast food chains have seized this oppor­tu­nity, and are exper­i­ment­ing by enlarg­ing their bev­er­age menu and offer­ing fun and cre­ative drinks. “McDonald’s touts its new frozen straw­berry lemon­ade while Steak’n’Shake and Sonic shout about their “happy hour” deals on milk­shakes and frozen drinks, avail­able dur­ing the mid-afternoon snack period.”  For this rea­son, we will be look­ing into some of the trends for 2012 and what peo­ple are demand­ing this year, specif­i­cally in the cold and frozen bev­er­ages market.

As the cof­fee lovers that we are, the first thing that I should point out is that Iced cof­fee is on the top of the list; and this topic could be an entire arti­cle by itself. “Consumption of this cold caf­feinated bev­er­age in restau­rants has heated up 20% per­cent in the last five years.”1 According to an inde­pen­dent sur­vey con­ducted by Dunkin’ Donuts, “an over­whelm­ing major­ity (84%) of iced cof­fee drinkers claim they are drink­ing more iced cof­fee this win­ter com­pared to last win­ter.” 2 Not only the inter­est in pre­mium and spe­cialty beans, but also all the advances in the cold brew tech­nol­ogy, has influ­enced the grow­ing demand. Everywhere, from McDonald’s to the local Café’s, oper­a­tors are offer­ing iced and frozen java drinks; even Starbucks with its new Via Iced Coffee is giv­ing cus­tomers the means to make their own at home. As a café, it is impor­tant to focus on the qual­ity of your brew­ing method, and make sure you dif­fer­en­ti­ate your iced or frozen cof­fee from those of the big chains.

Get Creative!

Creativity is crit­i­cal to dif­fer­en­ti­ate your café; and of course fla­vor. People are now demand­ing not only unique and excit­ing bev­er­ages, but cus­tomiz­able. Consumers want the do-it-yourself expe­ri­ence by being able to pick and choose from an array options. Syrups and fla­vor­ings will allow you to offer vari­ety, while main­tain­ing a high-profit mar­gin.  While fresh and local is cur­rently a big trend; using only fresh prod­ucts can be expen­sive, and can limit your cre­ativ­ity. Combining syrups and fla­vor­ings with a few sea­sonal fruits and botan­i­cals will allow you to mix fla­vors while keep­ing costs low, and also dis­tin­guish your Café with inven­tive drinks.

Quality

When a cus­tomer is pur­chas­ing a frozen or cold bev­er­age they will expect it to be tasty; that it is well blended; and that the fla­vor lasts until the end. The type of blender you use will play an impor­tant role in the out­come of these fac­tors. According to Tony Ciepiel, COO of Vitamix, “Our cus­tomers’ rep­u­ta­tions are built on qual­ity. Whether our prod­ucts are being used in a cof­fee house, smoothie bar, or one of the finest restau­rants in the world, we’ll con­tinue to cre­ate value and ver­sa­til­ity to help ensure suc­cess… Vitamix offers oper­a­tors the abil­ity to deliver a wide vari­ety of supe­rior blended bev­er­ages to their cus­tomers through a vari­ety of fea­tures and ben­e­fits, includ­ing its pro­gram but­tons with 34 opti­mized pro­grams found on The Quiet One.”

Something that is iron­i­cally often neglected, con­sid­er­ing it is the most promi­nent ingre­di­ent, is ice. According to Michael Rice, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Follett Corporation, “Studies have shown that peo­ple pre­fer Chewblet ice, gener­i­cally known as nugget or extruded ice, by over 2:1 com­pared to con­ven­tional cube-type ice.” He con­tin­ues by adding, “All Follett ice machines pro­duce Chewblet ice. More than 50% of the pop­u­la­tion likes to chew ice and con­sumers pre­fer the tex­ture, size, shape, and appear­ance of Chewblet ice. They often think Chewblet ice makes their drinks taste bet­ter and will go out of their way to get drinks with this type of ice.”

Frozen bev­er­ages are not just a sum­mer trend. People enjoy frozen drinks as a snack drink; some as a meal replace­ment, or sim­ply as a func­tional drink that allows them to get their daily fruit intake and other sup­ple­ments (which helps jus­tify the calo­ries); oth­ers drink them because of the tex­ture and because they are just plain fun! Regardless of the motive, the demand is present. Frozen Beverages are high-margin menu items that sell well, and they are easy to add to the menu with min­i­mal invest­ment and inven­tory. Do not miss an oppor­tu­nity to diver­sify your menu and increase rev­enue; fol­low the indus­try trends.