Craft and Hard Sodas: Utilizing Product Formulation Software to Address New Beverage Trend

product formulations
How can food and beverage companies tap into the growing consumer demand for hard and craft soda?
Image source: Flickr CC user Nic McPhee

It looks like the soda industry is following in the footsteps of the beer industry by going local, flavorful and premium. Hardly a surprise since soda products have been experiencing a sales slump in a similar way that beer products have. In fact, the soda market has seen flagging sales for the tenth consecutive year!1 No wonder they want to reverse that pattern before they mirror the beer market’s two-decade sales drop.

In what’s becoming a familiar refrain for many market sectors, food and beverage companies are looking toward millennials for ways to inject life into the soda market. The ideas aren’t necessarily new: innovative flavors, authentically-sourced products and natural ingredients. We’ve seen these traits sweep across other food and beverage products, so it was only inevitable for them to reach the soda market.

Food and Beverage Companies Seek Out Potential Untapped Markets

Early next year, MillerCoors intends to launch a line of hard soda products. This move targets a generation of consumers who grew up drinking soda and now are old enough to buy alcoholic versions using the disposable income they have as adults. It’s not a risky decision, either. Hard root beer is becoming increasingly popular. Many of my friends enjoyed it during our outings this past summer. Why wouldn’t companies bank on that popularity and expand it into other products?

For MillerCoors, the release of a hard ginger ale and a hard orange soda is a move the company hopes will be profitable.2 As someone who doesn’t care for root beer but loves ginger ale, I think the concept is pretty exciting. And given how hot a product ginger beer is, offering a hard ginger ale is a shrewd decision for a company seeking to regain the footing it’s lost to the craft beer market. I wouldn’t be shocked to see other food and beverage companies following MillerCoors’s example in the months to come.

Food and Beverage Firms Can Develop Innovative Product Formulations for Craft Sodas

Where the millennial influence can really be seen, however, is in the craft soda market. There is where food and beverage companies can really unveil new formulations tailored for the current generation’s evolving palate.

For example, let’s consider the increased focus on health and wellness. Studies show that 57% of adults believe that soda with natural ingredients are healthier than those with artificial ingredients. Even more striking, while 66% of adults say they don’t drink natural sodas, 44% say they’d be willing to give it a shot.3 Those look like promising figures to me!

What do “healthier-for-you” sodas look like? After all, I wouldn’t ever consider sodas healthy. What this means is that cane sugar is used instead of corn syrup or perhaps hand-pressed fruit instead of flavor additives. “Healthier-for-you” doesn’t mean low or non-fat. It means real and natural ingredients that are considered better for you rather than artificially processed ones. It’s perfect for consumers who want to splurge on a treat without having to feel too guilty about it.

Along with the surging ginger trend, craft sodas can also experiment with adventurous flavors. Mint, blood orange, pomegranate, and even tamarind—food and beverage companies are increasingly willing to try out new fruits, herbs, and spices in their soda formulations. Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t have ever thought to see tamarind as a soda flavor, but I have to admit I’m curious. My mother used tamarind as a souring agent in soups and I loved tamarind candy when I was a child. I can’t help but wonder what that tastes like in soda form, and beverage firms are banking on many to feel this way.

When it comes to injecting life into a slumping market, food and beverage companies can benefit from digital solutions that boost efficient workflows and optimize innovation. Whether it’s determining which existing soda products can succeed in alcoholic forms or what new exotic flavor will appeal to a consumer base interested in different, adventurous experiences, the BIOVIA Formulation Development Solution for CPG can help. Its suite of tools promote collaboration, maximize productivity and protect your intellectual property—all of which support your firm’s efforts toward developing innovative product formulations. Contact us today to learn more.

  1. “Can craft sodas add fizz to a slumping beverage industry?” July 17, 2015,
  2. “MillerCoors launching hard soda line in 2016,” August 25, 2015,
  3. “Craft beverages tap into local, premium trends,” August 19, 2015,

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