CHICAGO - Most people forget that water is really the only beverage you need to survive. It nourishes and refreshes, and is in abundant supply. But that hasn€™t stopped beverage manufacturers from creating a wide variety of thirst-quenchers, such as soda, energy and sports drinks, juices, smoothies, lemonades, and alcohol concoctions, FastCasual.com reports.
Now, with consumers thinking more about what they eat and drink, the trend toward more natural flavors and ingredients has become front and center in the beverage market. Real or unrefined sweeteners are making a comeback in drinks, including agave nectar, cane sugar and raw sugar. For example, Wendy€™s has an All-Natural Lemonade made with real sugar cane, and Roam Artisan Burgers€™ makes sodas in-house with agave nectar.
Smoothie stores are also promoting the healthful qualities of their ingredients. Jamba Juice has added more fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies.
But water, especially tap water, has been the most popular beverage of choice in restaurants lately. "Over the past five years, tap water has been one of the fastest growing beverages in American restaurants, representing 10% of the 50 billion beverage servings ordered," according to NPD Group.