LAS VEGAS -- The first-ever Healthy Beverage Expo took place June 7-9 at the Las Vegas Convention Center where it hosted 260 exhibitors showcasing the newest "healthy" beverages and held three days of education.
The event was collocated with the World Tea Expo, and the combined conferences attracted nearly 5,000 participants from more than 50 countries, including beverage distributors and retailers, foodservice professionals, product developers, health practitioners and dietitians.
"Supermarket Guru" Phil Lempert delivered a keynote address on the state and future of healthy beverages, and the latest food and beverage trends. The consumer trend analyst also shared the results of a Healthy Beverage Expo survey of the SupermarketGuru.com Consumer Panel -- consisting of more than 110,000 consumers. The survey focused on beverage consumption habits, preferences, knowledge of healthy beverages and what's most important to consumers.
According to the survey, 73% of consumers said they would pay more for a "healthy" beverage, while 24% said "no" and 3% said "maybe." When asked, "Why consume a "healthy beverage?" consumers pointed to weight loss, overall health, reducing sugars and finding them more satisfying, along with vitamin supplementation, avoiding empty calories and setting an example for children.
Key educational sessions at Healthy Beverage Expo included "Reaching Consumers Where They Shop"; "Simplifying Natural and Functional Beverage Trends for Retail Action"; "Culinary Trends, Consumer Priorities and the New Nutritional Competition Landscape"; "Consumer Health Behavior and Attitudes"; "Super-fruits, Super-foods and Super-ingredients"; and "Healthy Beverages Play a Key Role in Healthy Aging."
"Based on this first showing of Healthy Beverage Expo, it's clear that the beverage industry wanted this event," said George Jage, founder and director of World Tea Media, which managed the inaugural event. "Consumers definitely demand healthier beverage options -- everything from bottled water and juice drinks to sports and herbal beverages -- and consumers say they'll even pay more for them. So now's the time for companies to step up, innovate and take advantage of all the opportunities."
Healthy Beverage Expo and World Tea Expo will collocate again next year, returning to Las Vegas for a May 30-June 1 run.