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Predicting 2018's trends

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Once again the team here at Matthew Clark has looked deeply into their crystal balls and market reports to uncover the trends that we think are going to make it big over the next 12 months. As a sneak peek to what you’ll find below, we’re predicting the stocks of East Coast IPA’s, Cold Brew Coffee, Kombucha and some less prominent old world wine countries to rise over 2018.

First up however with the sugar tax awaiting its roll-out in April, is low and no sugar soft drinks. Over the next 12 months consumers will increasingly make more considered decisions around sugar consumption. In a similar theme, with 20% of under 25’s teetotal there is increasing opportunity for outlets to ensure they have a range to reflect a changing market. Part of this range may well be a Cold Brew Coffee. While most people would think of Espresso Martinis as the most reliable source of caffeine in the On-Trade, there is also a growing trend in Cold Brew Coffee. Whether over ice or used in cocktails this sweeter, smoother version of cold coffee is making real waves.

New England and Vermont IPA’s from America's east coast are the current Instagram trend. These big juicy hazy beers are creating a whole new subcategory in craft beer and providing a real challenge to brewers. They are packed full of all the tropical, fruity esters you would associate with IPA without the bitterness, as our own beer boffin Justin Wylde describes them, “it’s like Orange Juice but better”.

Over to wine and a quarter of wine lists of leading bars recently surveyed contain at least one wine from Hungary and not just the ever-popular perennial Tokaij. Dry whites, especially Furmint, are making headway among the UK On-Trade. Although sales are currently worth only around £1.5m annually, these wines are fresh, complex and firmly in the eye line of premium influencers. Over the next year, there is every possibility we will see added traction on all Hungarian wines and Furmint. A little bit further south on the map. Greece is a growing source for UK premium wine bars. Transporting drinkers to blue seas and whitewashed buildings, Assyrtiko from Santorini is a key driver among the Whites.

Across the board, as well as high sugar and high ABV levels, we’re seeing consumers moving away from sweet and developing a more bitter palate, where Aperol lead the way with its Spritz serve a few years back, other more bitter drinks and Amaros are taking their place on the centre stage.

Also in the spirits category, the gin bubble shows no signs of bursting. Expect to see the continued growth in popularity of flavoured gins with “pink” gins flavoured with berries and rhubarb being the real winner – existing brands such as Larios Rose, Pinkster and Warner Edwards and Slingsby Rhubarb will likely continue to thrive alongside many new entrants into the market.

The way consumers interact with cocktails is changing and outlets are having to rise to the challenge of making better quality serves more quickly. As cocktails continue to move into busier, higher tempo outlets and increasingly into the restaurants, the need for drinks of a consistent quality served at pace will see the continued rise of pre-batch and a real step change in the availability and quality of draught cocktails.

Finding its way into many a cocktail recipe recently, Kombucha could become mainstream in 2018. It’s a fermented tea made by adding bacteria, yeast and sugar to black or green tea. It usually has an ABV of less than 1% but at a time when product provenance and hand-made techniques are increasingly important to consumers and more people than ever are willing to experiment, it could be spotted in a bar near you soon.

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