You Are What You Drink

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Freshening Up Drink Menus at Healthcare Institutions

©IStockphoto.com/JohnnyGreig

Whether it’s a hospital, rehab center, nursing home or assisted living, today’s consumers expect their healthcare institutions to be stewards of good health. Demonstrate your commitment to customer wellbeing with nutritious and delicious beverage options that keep patients, residents, staff, and visitors happy.

Trending healthier

As the effects of diet on health continue to become more apparent, so do consumers’ desires for healthy food and beverage options. Many consumers believe in links between eating well and overall health, improved moods, and stress management. And they are changing their buying habits accordingly. 44% call for healthier beverages in restaurants, and 70% say eating well is important enough that they're willing to pay more for greener, cleaner options. Operators have seen the proof: 89% say those health and wellness factors drive their customers' purchasing decisions; the term "all natural" is flooding menus, growing in use by 82% over the past 4 years. Institutions often lag behind and neglect to update menus with the nutritious options people want.

According to recent polls, consumers’ top five beverage “must-haves” are more like have-nots. All five top desires are related to removing artificial ingredients; over a third of Americans want to limit preservatives and sugar, and almost half want less high-fructose corn syrup. At the top of everyone's list: fresh fruit and vegetables, plain and simple.

These consumer trends toward healthier food and beverage choices are making their way into healthcare institutions, both for paying customers as well as patients and residents. And it’s not just about simple ingredients – hydration is a key component in maintaining good health. With the avoidable costs of hospitalization due to dehydration in seniors estimated to be $1.14 billion, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are paying more attention to keeping residents’ thirst quenched with enhanced waters and juices.

Beverage revolution
Drink menus are slimming down and greening up. Nestlé has reduced the total added sugars in its Express SUNKIST and Nestlé Vitality juice beverages by 10%, removed all high-fructose corn syrup, all artificial flavors, and only added colors from natural sources. Express SUNKIST and Nestlé Vitality also offer 100% fruit juice and juice blends. As artificials vanish, vegetable-based juices are on the rise, including ready-to-drink offerings from Evolution Fresh and PepsiCo Naked.

So-called superfoods like acai, goji, and aloe vera bring exotic new tastes to drinks like ALO Refresh, Bolthouse Farms Acai+, Pom Hula, and the Nestlé Pure Life Exotics line.

Super or not, fruits and veggies are powerhouses of vitamins and nutrients, but consumers want even more. One in five want more protein in their beverages, 93% see the importance of calcium, and similar segments agree on vitamins D, B, and A. Vitamin-infused energy drinks grew in popularity by 6% in 2014, and are expected to grow 41% through 2019. Meanwhile, the protein beverage market is bulking up by about 10% each year.

Consumers are going for delicious and guilt-free beverages like Nestlé Vitality Flavor-Infused waters, a low-calorie, high-flavor way to hydrate with no preservatives. Drinks like these make staying hydrated easy for on-the-go guests, physicians, and visitors. Smoothies and juices are great additions to a well-balanced breakfast — what 65% of diners say is the most important meal of the day to eat healthfully.

Margins on better-for-you options — cost, waste, and resources — can make it difficult for operators to meet demand. New technologies make a variety of healthier options easier to offer. Take the Nestlé Vitality Express Dispenser with the Flavor Flip feature that can serve up to eight beverages with just one machine. Implementing better for you beverage options can be complicated when you account for resources, staffing and counter space, but taking the time to weigh key considerations will support a sustainable effort that satisfies the customer and keeps your establishment operating smoothly.

To be on trend, healthcare institutions are picking up the pace to respond to consumer demand in this rapidly changing market. And with heightened awareness on what we consume, there’s never been a better time to bring healthier options to your drink menus, support community wellness, and show your visitors you share their commitment to better living.

About Nestlé Professional Beverages
Nestlé Professional Beverages offers an exciting and growing portfolio of hot and cold, non-carbonated beverages, including juices, teas, enhanced waters and black and specialty coffees. Our leading brands, including Coffee-mate, Nestlé Vitality and NESCAFÉ in combination with proprietary dispensing technology and custom solutions backed by unparalleled service network, are all designed to help customers maximize their beverage sales and profits. Nestlé Professional Beverages is part of Nestlé S.A. in Vevey, Switzerland – the world’s largest food and beverage company – with sales of over $98 billion.

SOURCES: http://www.bevnet.com/news/2014/report-beverages-influence-restaurant-visits/ | Datassential - Trendspotting: Snapshots: All Natural http://apps.datassential.com/snap/SnapshotsV2 | Datassential - Nestle Cold Beverage Tracker, slide 52 | http://www.h4hinitiative.com/everyday-hydration/how-your-needs-change-over-time/hydration-and-elderly | http://www.h4hinitiative.com/everyday-hydration/how-your-needs-change-over-time/hydration-and-elderly | Nestle Datassential Global NHW Report 2015 | http://www.beverageworld.com/articles/full/17288/energys-in-demand | Mintel, quoted in Beverage World, http://www.beverageworld.com/articles/full/17288/energys-in-demand | Nestle Datassential Global NHW Report 2015