Aussies opting for healthy drinks

Tuesday, 28 January, 2020

Aussies opting for healthy drinks

A study carried out by researchers at the University of South Australia revealed that Australians are driving sales in the hospitality sector for healthy beverages, including super juices, kombucha products, herbal teas, bottled water and probiotic drinks.

Drink sales make up 40% of the country’s $45 billion annual spend on eating out, with health drink sales reaching $2.1 billion in 2018. The study examined the sale and provision of healthy beverages across four sectors of the hospitality industry: restaurants, cafes, pubs and quick-service/takeaways.

“Consumer demand for healthy drink options is certainly gaining traction, and it’s time the industry and government did more to encourage entrepreneurs in this space,” said the study’s lead researcher, Dr Rob Hallak, a hospitality expert at the University of South Australia School of Management.

Researchers examined 400 restaurant, cafe and hotel managers in Australia and New Zealand, and their approaches to healthy drink options. The findings, published in the British Food Journal, revealed that 35% of hospitality outlets in both countries sold probiotic drinks such as kombucha and kefir, with almost three-quarters of those who did reporting ‘medium to strong demand’ for such products. New Zealand businesses were 20% more likely to sell probiotic drinks than businesses in Australia. Despite increasing consumer demand for healthy beverage alternatives, franchises and pubs were less inclined than independently owned cafes and newer businesses to sell probiotic drinks.

“It was surprising to see that less than 10% of businesses overall offered a ‘healthy drinks’ category on their menus. While controlling demand through regulations — including warning labels and taxes — may be one way to halt the consumption of sugary drinks, increasing the variety, availability and supply of affordable healthier drink options could be more effective,” Dr Hallak said.

However, selling healthier drink options presents some challenges, as profit margins may be smaller, storage and fridge space is limited and their shelf life can be short.

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