Video: Cocktail Mixers, Craft Soda Shine at 2016 Winter Fancy Food Show

Yes, the Fancy Food Show has evolved. Yes, it now attracts food and beverage products not traditionally viewed as “specialty.” But make no mistake: the event is still a showcase for decadent and unique flavors, and the 2016 winter edition didn’t disappoint.

As evidenced by exhibitors in two fast-growing categories — craft soda and cocktails mixers — engaging consumers’ palates with spicy, savory and succulent ingredients is a primary aim for line extensions. Speaking with company executives at the show, it’s clear that’s what customers want — and brands are delivering.

The annual event saw the debut of heat-tinged mixers like Cocktail Crate’s Spicy Michelada and Owl’s Brew’s Wicked Green, a blend of green tea, lemon, lime and habenero as well as Found Beverage Co.’s new Watermelon Basil infused sparkling water and Sipp’s Blood Orange soda, which is blended with a hint of jalapeno.

Meeting consumer demand for bold flavor profiles is part of the reason for rapid sales growth in cocktail mixers, which now represent the fourth fastest-growing category in the grocery channel, according to recent sales data cited by Mark Mahoney, the co-founder of mixer brand Powell & Mahoney. Craft soda exhibitors also cite flavor innovation as driving growth in their segment, with distribution of the products surging in places like Target. Many also noted that the category is growing swiftly in food service.

In this video, BevNET CEO John Craven and BevNET Managing Editor Ray Latif discuss the continued development of both cocktail mixers and craft soda, as well as how brands in other categories, including tea, juice and kombucha are also making headway with new lip-smacking varieties.