As the new year begins, most of us reflect back on the past year and look to the future with anticipation. The same rings true in the beverage industry as beverage-makers launch new products to engage consumers while paying attention to the latest trends. (See the New Product Development Survey, page 52).  

When it comes to non-alcohol beverages, New York-based Wine n Dine, a mobile app for iPhones, pinpoints a few of the hottest trends. “If we were to place a big bet on a frontrunner, it would be matcha (Japanese green tea). We’ve seen matcha explode over the last year and are now seeing the ingredient used not only for drinks, but also in food,” says Mike Williams, head of product and strategy at Wine n Dine.

Williams cites the emergence of matcha doughnuts and an uptick in matcha beverages as signs of the ingredient’s emergence. “We’ve seen matcha-focused bars, tea shops and coffee shops pop up in early adopting cities like New York and L.A.,” he says. “Matcha lattes have been particularly popular now that the winter months are rolling back in.”

There also has been a major shift to spicy ingredients and spicy cocktails featuring hot peppers, cayenne, ginger and turmeric, Williams notes. “We’re still seeing tons of cold-pressed juices and a steady increase of ingredients like cayenne pepper, ginger and lemon — often together. Additionally, while a classic, we see the Moscow Mule as another popular drink contender, which interestingly enough features ginger beer.”

Consumers using apps to research restaurants and purchase products is likely to continue. In the new year, it’s likely that many of us will step out of our comfort zone by trying something new.