The beverage landscape has changed dramatically during the last two decades, driven in large part by consumer demand for healthier options to carbonated soft drinks laden with sugar and artificial sweeteners.
The market has responded by offering consumers a multitude of new beverage choices, from flavored water to energy drinks to teas. Innovation is the name of the game in the beverage industry, with an emphasis on natural ingredients and new processes.
As food service operators seek to stay on trend and maintain the profitability of the beverage segment, new-age beverages are emerging that are better suited to consumer tastes.
Soda manufacturers are exploring the use of nitrogen, a burgeoning trend in the coffee and beer segments, to balance sweetness and fizz in soft drinks while reducing sugar.
Carbonated soft drinks get their fizz from carbon dioxide, which forms the large, coarse bubbles associated with soda drinks. It also results in a tangy or sharp taste, which is balanced by adding sugar. By infusing soft drinks with nitrogen rather than carbon dioxide, the bubbles are much finer and the taste is much smoother and sweeter, so there’s less need for sugary additives.
Nitrogen gas is less soluble in water than carbon dioxide, so getting proportions for taste and carbonation just right is key. In nitro beer or coffee applications, a restrictor plate on the tap forces nitrogen infused liquid through small holes, creating soft, cascading bubbles and a creamy foam head.
While mainstream nitrogenated soft drinks are still in the experimental stages, nitrogenated teas, premium waters and house-made soft drinks that contain less sugar are gaining in popularity. Operators are also experimenting with juices and dairy beverages that use fresh, seasonal ingredients and an expanding array of flavored syrups, fruit purees and other ingredients to devise their own unique bubbly refreshers.
“Health and wellness is an enduring trend in the beverage industry,” said Dave Allen, Product Group Manager, Xylem AWS. “It has prompted manufacturers and operators to respond with creativity and innovation in beverage development. Manufacturers like Xylem Flojet are on the leading edge of this trend by providing quality products and solutions that foster new breakthroughs in beverage technology that ultimately drive business and support healthy lifestyles.”