Mintel Finds Flavor Innovations Burst in Beer Cooler

CHICAGO — New research from Mintel indicates there has been an explosion of flavored beer innovation. 

The research firm's Global New Products Database (GNPD) reveals the proportion of new flavored beer product launches has grown from just 15 percent of total U.S. beer launches in 2010 to 27 percent of total U.S. beer launches in 2015, an 80-percent increase over the five-year period. 

At the same time, new Mintel research revealed that the proportion of unflavored beer launches has declined from 85 percent of the total beer market in 2010 to less than three quarters in 2015.

According to the research, as many as one in five beer drinkers drank flavored beer last year. Young women are particularly drawn to flavored varieties, with usage peaking among women aged 22-34 (39 percent). 

In addition, 57 percent of beer drinkers who increased their beer consumption in 2015 credit this increase to a wider availability of flavors. Overall, as many as three in five U.S. alcohol drinkers said they are interested in fruit flavored beer, with other flavors such as spicy (45 percent), tart/sour (45 percent), and beer blended with juice, tea and soft drinks (49 percent) also showing strong potential, Mintel said.

Highlighting further interest in fruit-based alcohol, the U.S. cider sector saw volume sales grow fivefold between 2010 and 2015, reaching an estimated 31 million (2.25-gallon cases), according to the research.

However, while growth has been strong, only 15 percent of consumers aged 22 or older drink alcoholic or hard cider. According to Mintel, it is sweet-toothed millennials who are particularly attracted to cider, as nearly one quarter enjoy this beverage.

"Mintel research reveals an explosion of innovation in the flavored beer category. The fact that well over half of all U.S. alcohol drinkers say they are interested in flavored beer highlights a significant opportunity to boost participation in the beer category. Leading flavors among product launches include pumpkin, spicy, coffee and chocolate, while newer products, including hard or alcoholic sodas, have become more widely available," said Beth Bloom, food and drink analyst at Mintel. 

"The trend differs from the boom seen in flavored vodka a few years back in that flavored beer launches are exploring more adult formulations and steering clear of gimmicks such as whipped cream, coconut cream pie, and Dreamsicle varieties," she added.

Valued at an estimated $102.1 billion in 2015, dollar sales of beer are estimated to have grown a moderate 4 percent in 2015, amounting to overall gains of 21 percent since 2010. Meanwhile, volume sales continue to decline, slipping 2 percent in the same five-year period, according to Mintel's findings.

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