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As manufacturers in Asia-Pacific (APAC) are embarking on a growing trend of adding liquid nitrogen to beverages to create a unique consumption experience for consumers, especially millennials, who are open to experimenting with new and innovative offerings.

Shagun Sachdeva, Consumer Insights Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her views on the potential opportunities in the nitrogen infused food and beverages (F&B) sector:

“Curiosity has emerged as the key driver of appetite for nitrogen-infused beverages, further fed by higher exposure to social media in APAC. Millennials, who are tech-savvy and experimental, appreciate products which deliver an element of surprise. This willingness and desire to experiment creates opportunities for brands to ‘premiumize’ by offering unusual and innovative products, which consumers are often ready to pay a premium price for.

“The use of liquid nitrogen in beverages has not only augmented the ability of beverage-makers to amaze and inspire consumers but also opened up revenue generating possibilities for foodservice outlets such as coffee shops and cafes. Coffee brewers are replacing dairy ingredients with nitrogen gas as it mimics the mouth feel that dairy ingredients can provide. Whereas, in ready-to-drink coffee category, nitrogen gas offers creamy taste without adding calories or animal-based ingredients, making products appropriate for consumers pursuing a vegan diet.

“For instance, companies such as Imbibe are using nitrogen to elevate the flavor profile of its beverages like tea, coffee and beers as consumers are getting intrigued by the velvety and luxurious texture that nitrogen infusions provide in beverages. In May 2018, the company collaborated with Ball Corporation to use its Widget Inside can technology in developing innovative nitrogen-infused beverages. In June 2018, Starbucks Thailand unveiled its first Asian four-tap draft nitro coffee system, which delivers Starbucks Cold Brew and nitrogen-infused Starbucks Cold Brew, tea and milk.

“Manufacturers are executing distribution and partnership agreements with local companies in APAC to address market demand for nitrogen-infused beverages in the region. However, nitrogenation is an expensive process and liquid nitrogen is a tricky ingredient to work with as unlike most food ingredients, it poses significant health risks if not handled with care and consumed carefully. In addition, the regulatory language of using liquid nitrogen in F&B sector is ambiguous and liquid nitrogen has run into issues in the beverage market in the past. Therefore, it is imperative for the makers of beverages infused with liquid nitrogen to find ways to prevent such outcomes with products that are safe and sustainable.”