“The smoothie, first introduced as an indulgent treat that morphed into a drink for muscle heads to slam after a workout, has again evolved,” according to Now trending. “Consumers not only view them as a dessert or a post workout snack, they now treat them as a quick, on-the-go meal replacement — a trend several fast casuals are embracing.”

“In fact, smoothies now account for $5 billion a year with the foodservice industry serving more than 1 million a year, according to Technomic, which reports limited-service concepts represent about 68 percent of the volume.”

According AudienceSCAN, 23.9% of U.S. adults are “smoothie/fruit juice drinkers.”

“In recent years, we have seen a large demand for smoothies made with real, trustworthy ingredients,” said Julie Owens, director of marketing at Blendtec, which recently predicted the year’s Top 10 smoothie trends. “From hearty smoothie bowls to the addition of colorful vegetables, herbs and spices, we are seeing some exciting trends pop up for foodservice in 2016.”

“One of those trends is the smoothie bowl, which often contains superfood ingredients, including chia seeds, flax seeds, goji berries, cacao nibs and hemp protein,” Cherryh Cansler wrote in Fast Casual. “Bowls are slightly thicker and heartier than usual smoothies and are ideal for those seeking a fun and more filling meal replacement option, said Carol DeNembo, VP of business development at Juice It Up!, which offers 10 smoothie bowls topped with fresh bananas, granola and honey.”

“Rising health consciousness coupled with our hectic on-the-go lifestyles have directly impacted the idea of smoothies as meal replacements in recent years,” DeNembo said. “Consumers are becoming more educated and concerned about fat content, fried foods and salt content, especially when dining out, and are looking for healthy alternatives. In addition to health-focused, convenience and value are important factors that consumers consider when deciding what and where to eat. Smoothies and bowls address all of these areas. Additionally, smoothies are an excellent source for protein, which consumers are especially interested in as part of a complete diet,” she said.”

Along these same health lines, AudienceSCAN found that 27.8% of smoothie fans also intend to purchase activewear (yoga, running, fitness) for their healthy and fit lifestyles. And 12% will buy home exercise/fitness equipment this year.

Globally focused

“Another noteworthy smoothie trend is a focus on global influences, such as Asian and Mexican-inspired flavors,” Cansler said. “Horchata — a traditional Spanish drink made with rice, nuts and almond milk —  and Lassi, a blend of yogurt, water, spices and fruit drank in India, are two other global flavors that will soon show up in smoothies, according to Blendtec’s predictions.”

Your smoothie shops could highlight their global offerings in ads with you! Or maybe they want to go a sporty route? 21.7% of Smoothie/Fruit Juice Drinkers usually try to support companies that sponsor their favorite sports team or athlete. Your smoothie shops could sponsor a volleyball league! AudienceSCAN finds that juicers are 89% more likely than average to love playing volleyball.

Here are the 10 smoothie trends for this year:

  1. Build-your-own: Smoothie bar concepts that allow customers to customize drinks for a ‘Chipotle-style’ dining experience are seeing huge success.
  2. Health boosters: Ingredients such as protein, superfoods and healthy fats, transform a regular smoothie from a typical snack into a functional, tasty supplement.
  3. Smoothie meals:These smoothies often contain superfood ingredients and beneficial additives to keep customers feeling sustained all day long.
  4. Smoothie bowls: Smoothie bowls are thicker than traditional smoothies with added ice, frozen fruits and vegetables, protein powders and healthy fats.
  5. Sugar alternatives: As consumers continue to look for ways to add functional ingredients, sugar alternatives are also becoming increasingly popular.
  6. Colorful veggies: Consumers are looking beyond traditional greens in smoothies, making veggies such as beets, carrots, pumpkin and cabbage poised to take off.
  7. Global inspiration: Global influences that have transformed the food culture are now making their way into beverages with matcha, horchata and lassi leading the way.
  8. Spices and herbs: The use of culinary herbs enhance smoothies with bold flavors, and spices add a warm and spicy kick to cool concoctions.
  9. Low-profile liquids: Liquids beyond dairy milk and fruit juice are gaining popularity in the smoothie segment.
  10. Adult smoothies: These drinks are smoothies with one extra ingredient — alcohol.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.