Cold brew coffee is thriving (representing 22% of RTD coffee launches between June 2018 and May 2019, up from 15% the year before), and brands now need to start getting innovative to differentiate in the category. Tetra Pak explore the latest trends and how you can leverage them. 

A barista hands a carton of cold brew coffee to a customer

Words by Tetra Pak.


What are consumers expecting from their cold-brew coffee? 

Today’s coffee-based drinks address consumer needs for comfort and enjoyment. While indulgence is an essential sales driver, these three insights highlight the need to think beyond that to win in cold-brew and take advantage of this growth:

  • Remain indulgent whilst moving to clean labelling: we are expecting a shift in consumer behaviour that will see them start promoting products without artificial ingredients. For example, in the US, it is now imperative that cold brew delivers on the consumer need for clean label coffee (no “nasties”).
  • Tap into the power of plants: fewer young consumers drink their coffee black. A way for brands to match these needs is to pro-actively start experimenting with healthy flavours, such as plant-based milk, which can position cold brew as more natural and premium.
  • Sustainable packaging as a premium point of differentiation: We asked 7,500 respondents in 15 countries all around the globe which motivations inspired them to purchase environmentally sound products. The results show that consumers are increasingly future-focused. Figures reveal a significant increase in the percentage of consumers who actively make purchasing choices that are driven by environmental concerns. Price is now less of a barrier than it was before, with 43% of consumers now willing to pay more for a more sustainable package.

How can brands be positioned to take advantage of this fast-evolving segment?

Tetra Pak is committed to helping its partners capture any opportunity to grow. Here we lay out ways in which you can leverage the three main trends we see in the cold-brew coffee space:

  • Sell ‘clean indulgence’: in an increasingly competitive landscape, brands need to find ways to differentiate. The US has become a trend-setter in the clean label space (taste without including artificial ingredients). We believe this is the right path to follow in order to be seen as a quality leader.
  • Be an early adopter and experiment with plant-based milk: Plant-based milk is amongst the fastest growing food & beverage category in Europe (8.8% CAGR till 2022 – source: Tetra Pak analysis 2019). The primary growth is coming from new flavours in the segment.



Furthermore, these drinks are considered nutritional.  For example, 22% of German consumers aged 16-24 believe that plant-based drinks are a good source of protein. (Source: Mintel, 2019).  Additionally, they also offer opportunities to make organic & vegan claims to further improve your consumer credentials.

  • Adopt the package with the lowest climate impact: Consumers are increasingly starting to see packaging as an essential parameter in choosing their products. In 2019, 53% of consumers are much more likely to consider a brand whose packaging has excellent environmental credentials, ten percent higher than in 2017. And with 35% of consumers a ‘little more likely’ to consider brands with environmentally sound packaging, this is now a positive motivation for an overwhelming majority of consumers. For manufacturers and producers, it illustrates how packaging can both complement their brands’ environmental credentials as well as drive sales. Climate impact is now one of the main parameters that consumers consider when evaluating how sustainable a package is. At Tetra Pak, we continuously work with third parties and commission unbiased assessments on the climate impact of our packaging. In the 330ml segment (a typical European portion package size), the carton comes out with a clear advantage on its overall climate impact vs. many of the conventional package alternatives in the segment.


An info-graphic showing the climate impact of different forms of packaging


Tetra Pak has the portfolio to fulfil a multitude of demands. We want to help you drive a tangible sustainability agenda and believe our packaging is a crucial lever you can use to help you achieve your goals.

(Source of insights: Global report on consumer insights, Tetra Pak® 2019 and Mintel Report – July 2019)

Make sure to visit the Tetra Pak stand at the European and Middle East coffee Symposium from 11 – 13 November to learn more about trends, new products, and discuss your needs and find opportunities to help you succeed. More information can be found at