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Consumer Beverage Preferences Continue to Shift

Sustainability issues and greater variety continue to shape what consumers drink according to NPD Group data.


The number of occasions where a consumer drinks a purchased beverage, both in- and away-from home, has declined by 72 over the past decade, according to data from The NPD Group. Consumers have about 1,100 beverage occasions per person a year, which equates to about 3 non-tap water drinks a day. When purchasing a drink, consumers continue to turn to the beverage standards of coffee, soft drinks, milk, iced tea or bottled water finds The NPD Group.

“There are more varieties of beverages available today than in the past in order to appeal to a wide range of needs and wants,” says David Portalatin, vice president, food industry analyst at NPD Group and author of the recently published Eating Patterns in America. “Even though it looks like U.S. consumers are drinking fewer beverages than in the past, there has likely been a migration to tap water due to the recession as well as sustainability concerns with packaging. Have no fear — beverages are very much a part of the American diet.”

Brewed coffee and specialty coffee represent the number one beverages consumed at home. A variety of coffee appliances help drive in-home gourmet coffee consumption. Many U.S. young adults, ages 18 and over, brew their coffee at home via craft coffee brewing techniques, like using pour over cones, French presses and vacuum brewers. Brewed coffee and specialty coffee rank second among the top beverages consumed at restaurants and other foodservice outlets.

Soft drinks remain the number one beverage consumed at restaurants and other commercial foodservice outlets, with some 18 billion servings ordered in the year ending February 2016. Carbonated beverages are the second most consumed purchased beverage at home.

Even though consumption of regular and diet soft drinks has been on the decline, carbonated soft drinks are still a top revenue-generating beverage consumed, per NPD Group.

Milk and iced tea rank third as a top beverages consumed in and away from home respectively, but these categories haven’t realized the growth that bottled water has over the last decade. Bottled water remains a top growing beverage category in and away from home and represents the only beverage category consumed at home with a meaningful increase in the past ten years. The category has had an equally strong showing away from the home. Servings of bottled plain and sparkling water ordered at restaurants and other foodservice outlets increased by 12 percent in the year ending February 2016 compared to the same period last year.