Changes To The Beverage Status Quo

The beverage portion of the U.S. food and beverage manufacturing sector continues to maintain steady growth.

As a whole, the beverage portion of the United States food and beverage manufacturing sector continues to maintain steady growth to $145 billion, according to data compiled from 2016 Global Packaging Trends and 2017 Trends in Food Processing Operations. What has changed are the segments within beverage that are driving its stable rise.

Within food and beverage in total, beverage has seen the most growth in the number of places producing beverage products, with the bulk of this growth attributed to the explosion of breweries across the U.S. This is a result of consumer affinity for the quality, flavor and brewing techniques that created the booming craft brewing industry. In fact, the number of breweries increased 198 percent between 2012 to 2014, and beer now represents 32 percent of the beverage industry, second only to non-alcoholic (soft drinks, bottled water/juices) at 42 percent. Wineries (16 percent) and distilled alcohol (10 percent) round out the beverage category.

The other significant trends driving production involve making beverages healthier — whether it's replacing artificial colors and flavors with natural ones, or adding nutrients to fortify drinks. The industry is also moving to smaller cans and bottles which feed the low-calorie trend.

Additional consumer habits driving change include a continued spike in energy drinks, flavored beverages and nutritionally enhanced beverages. This growth is expected to slow down a bit in the years ahead from its current double-digit growth. The numbers for carbonated beverages continue to head downward, as they have over the past five years. Logically, this is a result of the move towards healthier alternatives. From an industry standpoint, the number of beverages consumed is relatively the same, mitigating losses among beverage producers.

Globally, information from the reports indicates a rise in ready-to-drink teas, flavored waters and dairy drinks, refrigerated kombuchas (lightly effervescent fermented teas popular in Asia) and other fermented drinks. Coffee continues to produce double-digit growth in single-cup sales, so much so that single cup sales are expected to surpass roasted coffee by 2018.

On the dairy side, fluid milk production increased 7.5 percent from 2012 to 2014, but traditional milk consumption has waned. Dairy growth is a result of the rising popularity of cheese and yogurt.

From a machinery standpoint, the capital expenditure on beverage machinery decreased five percent during the 2008-2014 timeframe. The dip was somewhat offset by a 28.9 percent increase in leased machinery. The burgeoning beer market could be the impetus here as well, as newcomers to the industry are waiting to purchase equipment until they have established a stronger foothold or better understand their capital needs.

Of the beverage segments, dairy equipment showed the largest six-year shipment value increase at 42.8 percent, as well as the largest two-year (2012-2014) shipment value increase at 16 percent. The highest increase of capital expenditure on equipment also occurred in dairy. Conversely, leased machinery for dairy beverages decreased 7.8 percent. One reason highlighted for the increase in dairy is that manufacturers have been able to pass the rising price of milk on to the consumer.

Regardless of the segments within the market, beverage manufacturers across all segments consider the same attributes when evaluating new equipment, with more than half (54 percent) citing cost as the biggest factor. Reliability/durability, return on investment and service all exceeded 33 percent.

For companies seeking the latest technologies targeting the beverage segment, PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2017 (Sept. 25-27; Las Vegas Convention Center) will offer 800,000 net square feet of innovations and solutions and serve as North America’s largest packaging event. It’s where executives and plant managers, engineers, brand managers and packaging designers come to see machinery in action, connect with suppliers, network and gain the latest perspective on the beverage industry as well as 40 additional vertical markets. Co-located with the Healthcare Packaging EXPO, the two shows will bring together more than 30,000 attendees and 2,000 suppliers of packaging equipment and materials.  To learn more about the advanced packaging solutions that will be on display as well as the educational and networking opportunities at the show, visit