Festive LTO Beverages Bring Nostalgia and Magic to Foodservice Menus

fancy hot cocoa

Our latest analysis of holiday beverage LTOs will help brands sort through the many trending flavours and formats during the festive season

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KerryDigest Fast Facts:

  • Consumers are craving the indulgent flavours they love this holiday season, with chocolate the top flavour for 2021 limited time offer (LTO) beverages.
  • Our in-depth analysis found dessert-inspired creations is a developing trend, with flavours such as fudge brownie, red velvet and gingerbread present across Europe and Russia.
  • Hot chocolate LTOs increased, with a range of chocolate from dark to white seen in the market with complimentary flavourings such as mint, matcha and caramel.
  • Seasonal fruit flavours continue to emerge as a trend, with orange taking centre stage for the festive season.
  • As indulgence comes into the limelight during the Christmas period, we have seen a marked increase in both coffee shops and quick service restaurants launching indulgent food LTOs.

KerryDigest Full Scoop:

While the festive period is celebrated nearly globally, seasonal celebrations can differ considerably depending on your location and culture, including within Europe. From wacky traditions such as Catalonia’s candy- and gift-pooping log to more religious holidays like St. Lucy’s Day in Sweden, festive culture is unique to each region as are the flavours and ingredients associated with the winter holidays.

To support you in crafting seasonal beverages that align with your region’s local holiday flavours and help your brand stand out to consumers for the festive season, our experts have developed the report “Art of Taste & Nutrition: Festive Beverages” which analyses the top trends, flavours and platforms for winter 2021 LTOs across Europe and Russia. In this article, we examine some of the key insights from the report and review what they mean for foodservice brands as they plan their 2022 LTO calendars and offerings.

Festive nostalgia is the biggest holiday LTO trend

The festive season is reliably one of the most significant periods for LTO launches in the foodservice market. This year was no different, with a sizable number of LTOs captured across both food and beverage. The main trend captured was one of festive nostalgia as consumers crave both comfort and enjoyment in the form of indulgent flavours they associate with the festive season. As a result, chocolate was the top flavour for 2021 LTO beverages followed by gingerbread and caramel. In fourth and fifth place we see trends of warming spice and seasonal fruit flavours with orange and cinnamon.

chocolate syrup on hot chocolateFlavour innovation is happening in the hot chocolate LTO category, from sweet and delicate white chocolate to premium and rich dark chocolate.

Hot chocolate undergoes growing flavour innovation

With chocolate as the top flavour for holiday LTOs, it’s no surprise that we saw an increase in hot chocolate LTOs over the festive season. However, we also saw flavour innovation in this space, as brands adopted a range from sweet and delicate white chocolate to premium and rich dark chocolate to create indulgent and unique hot chocolate LTOs. There was also innovation in flavour pairings within the hot chocolate category, with complimentary and exciting flavour combinations such as white chocolate with matcha and dark chocolate with orange creating both premium and appealing beverages.

Iced beverage offerings continue to increase

Winter continues to be predominantly a hot beverage season, with 89% of the LTOs captured in our research presenting as a warming drink. However, 11% of the LTOs launched this year were iced or cool. This marks a 9% increase over last year, showing the ever-increasing popularity of iced beverages amongst consumers. To keep up, brands are continuing to launch iced versions of popular festive drinks such as gingerbread lattes, even in the depths of winter.

Future trends localise indulgent dessert flavours

Our ‘Taste and Nutrition: Festive Beverages’ report allows us to look at the current trends and flavours in the market. However, to predict future trends, and help you stay ahead of the curve, we use our proprietary artificial intelligence tool, Kerry Trendspotter, to uncover emerging flavours and trends in the market by analysing thousands of online interactions, Google search data and user generated content.

Local dessert flavours are being added to consumers’ favourite drinks to create an indulgent and relevant LTO for the festive season.beautiful holiday inspired iced beverages

Reviewing Kerry Trendspotter data alongside the LTO insights captured for this season illuminated one main trend to consider for future flavour development: The emergence of local dessert flavours combined into consumers’ favourite drinks to create an indulgent and relevant LTO for the festive season. This year, a trend of dessert flavours took off with American-style dessert such as a rocky road and red velvet used throughout. In the future we predict this will be more tailored to the regional and local European markets with desserts such as shortcake, pistachio cream, cinnabon and croquembouche all hitting a sweet spot on our AI predictive trend tool.

Quick service restaurants lead food LTO space for Christmas

As mentioned previously, our latest report captured both a range of beverage and food LTO launches for the 2021 festive season, with quick service restaurants (QSRs) leading the way with an amplitude of holiday offerings including flavours and ingredients associated with the holiday period. This included Christmas pizza from foodservice brands such as Dominos and Pizza Hut; indulgent vegan toasties and wraps from outlets such as Leon, Costa Coffee and Pret a Manger; and innovative takes on festive classics from McDonald’s, Nando’s and KFC.

A touch of festive magic elevating LTOs

Around the holiday season, creating a LTO that tastes good and has that special touch of ‘festive magic’ is essential for capturing consumer attention amongst the noise of the Christmas period. Consumers wanted to be wowed and wooed with a drink that is also an experience to remember. Our latest report showcases examples of how brands have created such premium and glamourous LTO beverages through flavour innovation, brand collaboration and added extras that will win big with consumers.

To find out more top trends and flavours in the foodservice LTO holiday beverage market, download our ‘Taste and Nutrition: Festive Beverages’ report and access Kerry’s world-class suite of digital consumer insight tools. To work with our expert-lead team of baristas and beverage scientists to create winning beverage concepts, contact us.

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