Made with Honey Beverages “Putting the Good In’’ at Natural Products Expo East

RTD Tea cropped

A common theme at this year’s Natural Products Expo East was a shift in product development from “removing the bad” to “putting the good in.” American consumers are looking at product labels and individual ingredients more than ever before, seeking all-natural products that are familiar, have clean label attributes and serve as something more: a definition that’s personal to the individual.

We saw a record number of functional beverage introductions on the show floor in Philadelphia that were sweetened with honey. Each of these products used honey for sweetness as well as marketing benefits and to impart a “comfort” and “familiarity” to a product.

Smootch, an oat-based beverage, made its debut at Expo East with a product positioning of “Nature’s smooth, clean energy drink.” The varieties include Blood Orange Grapefruit, Lemon Lime, Black Currant Elderberry, and Guava Hibiscus, each of which are infused with honey, prebiotic fiber and electrolytes. The uniquely formulated “oat-powered hydration” comes from the company’s partnership with regenerative farmers who practice rebuilding soil organic matter.

Photo Credit: Smootch
Photo Credit: Eat the Change

Resiliency was an industry theme discussed throughout the show, and one of the largest stories to come out of Expo East was the launch of Eat the Change, a new initiative from Honest Tea founder Seth Goldman. Honest Tea was discontinued by Coca-Cola earlier this year, and Goldman has wasted no time debuting a new beverage, Just Ice Tea, which features a Moroccan Mint Green Tea and Honey Green Tea that both use honey in their formulations.

Not to be confused with Just Ice Tea, Just Made Lemonades showcased three made-with-honey beverages — Basil & Mint, Ginger and Lavender — packaged in a brand new 100% plant-based PET bottle.

Photo Credit: Just Made
Photo Credit: Wood Stove Kitchen

In addition to functional beverages, this year’s Natural Products Expo East also had its fair share of zero-alcohol spirits, RTD mocktails and better-for-you mixers. One of our favorites was a line of honey-sweetened mixers from Wood Stove Kitchen, which included Bee’s Knees Honey & Citrus; Rose, Honey & Lemon Cocktail-Mocktail Mixer; and Honey, Lemon & Ginger Hot Toddy. These all-natural, versatile options for the low-no alcohol space, used honey to convey quality and a more natural alternative.

If the Expo East show floor is any indication, the future is bright for honey in the beverage category. Manufacturers are checking off a number of consumer wishes by using honey: an all-natural sweetener, a better-for-you sweetener, and a sweetener that is delicious when combined with both familiar and new ingredients and flavors. We’ll drink to that.

Are you formulating a new beverage with honey for 2023? We’d love to hear about it. Email [email protected].