Herbal energy drinks, plant milk, bio-packaging: the latest trends were presented at the main food trade fair ANUGA 2023 


One of the world’s largest food and beverage exhibitions, ANUGA 2023, took place in the middle of October. This event, which has a century-long history, was traditionally conducted in Cologne, Germany. It was attended by over 1 500 exhibitors from 50 countries and about 150000 guests.

ANUGA is a platform for manufacturers to present all the latest innovations in the spheres of ingredients, processing technologies, packaging, packaging and food safety. This year, the main trends include natural herbal energy drinks, refusal from sugar and milk, virgin cocktails and eco-friendly packaging.

Olena Okara, Category Marketing Manager (water & CSD) at New Products Group, has visited the exhibition and is ready to share her analytics in the field of food technologies.

Refusal from sugar and natural sweeteners

Global manufacturers are abandoning sugar altogether. It is replaced with substitutes and sweeteners, mostly on a natural basis. Even mass market companies create niche drinks in parallel. At Anuga, they were presented in the innovation section. “When you ask manufacturers about the percentage of sugar in their drinks, they assure you that there is no sugar at all, only substitutes. Even in the mass market, there are sugar-free drinks; the trend is for ‘gluten free’ and ‘sugar free’. But if we talk about juices, they are sweet thanks to fructose and other natural ingredients. One of the innovations was Green Cola, which resembled classic cola only in colour, but the taste was completely different, as it contained natural sweeteners. Or a cannabis-flavoured drink, which is natural but bright blue in colour,” says Olena Okara.

There are also different variations of Bubble tea among these drinks. Previously, it was made mainly of tapioca, but now it is replaced with the orange, strawberry and other fruits flavoured jelly. These drinks were actively represented by Taiwanese companies. However, we can predict that they will soon become more popular in Europe.

Generally speaking, there were many Asian representatives at Anuga (from countries such as China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and India), all of them wishing to enter the European market. They were also presenting natural drinks, a variety of waters with pieces of aloe or basil seeds.

Herbal energy drinks

Not only sugar, but also energy is now produced using natural components. No sugar, caffeine or taurine are added to energy drinks. Herbal and plant extracts are used instead. It can be ‘coffee’ based on probiotics, adaptogens, and even mushrooms. These drinks really give you vigour and strength, but without the effect of a ‘caffeine crash’.

Products for women’s health and beauty

There was a separate category of functional drinks at the exhibition that address specific problems. “For example, the “Beauty care” brand. They have colourful bottles with ready-to-drink beverages in various concentrations. For example, to improve the look of the face, skin, hair, joints, and eye health. That is, you don’t need to go to a pharmacy or vitamin shop, buy different vitamins, and keep in mind that you need to take them. Instead, there are bottles for every day, for specific tasks,” says the category manager of New Products Group.   

Plant milk and meat

Anuga has a separate sector named “Anuga Meat”, and there was a lot of soya meat. The milk was also plant-based. Even canned coffee drinks were mostly made with plant milk.

Zero alcohol

There was also no strong alcohol at the exhibition – only its “alcohol free” variations, which are used for cocktails, non-alcoholic whiskey, and non-alcoholic vodka. There were many ready-made virgin mixes. By the way, New Products Group is also expanding this trend. The SHAKE Zero brand, in particular. These are juice containing cocktails that can be consumed as a standalone drink or used to make world-famous alcoholic and non-alcoholic mixes. “The significant growth in SHAKE Zero sales in recent months shows that there is also a demand for such products in Ukraine,” says Olena Okara.

At the same time, there was also a wide range of non-alcoholic wines, low-alcohol cocktails and wine-based drinks at Anuga.

Healthy snacks

Baked snacks are another food trend – minimum oil, minimum salt. In the innovation section, there was a presentation of borscht-flavoured and cannabis-flavoured chips created by a manufacturer that also produces a wide range of standard flavours, such as cheese and bacon.

18+ chips (called “D*ick flavour” and “Pu*sy flavour”) attracted special attention of visitors. Some time ago, something similar was made by Lays, but those chips were called: “For her” and “For him”.


Much attention is paid to the environmental impact of production. Packaging should be made of materials that are as biodegradable as possible. It is also important that it is functional.

Since it is not desirable to use recycled plastic in the food industry, manufacturers prefer cardboard. It is even used to make cans (which have the same shape as aluminium cans that we are used to). For example, an Austrian manufacturer was serving cocktails in cardboard cans.

Anuga is actually a platform that presents everything that is important for the international trade audience. And the trends presented there eventually gain popularity all over the world, even though they currently seem extremely original or niche. Therefore, it is quite possible that in the next few years, herbal energy drinks, mushroom coffee and vitamin beverages will be sold in every supermarket.