Liquid Thinking

Climate Taste

Is climate change shaping drinking habits?

17th August 2023

Changing weather patterns, and their physical impact on communities and landscapes, are clear for us all to see. From wildfires to flooding, extreme once-in-a-lifetime events are becoming chillingly common. And while a lot of attention is rightly paid to how climate change is impacting agriculture and food production, less is being paid to how the weather is shaping what we actually want to consume. So, is climate change shaping drinking habits? And do brands focused on colder weather need to rethink their range?

We’re living in strange times. In unprecedented, unpredictable times. When it comes to the weather, normal might be a thing of the past. Across the world, seasons are shifting, weather patterns are becoming more extreme, and food and drinks producers are having to adapt their businesses to cope.

According to the BBC, in early August, the world’s oceans reached their highest ever recorded temperature, with an average daily global sea surface temp of 20.96C. The figure is described as far above average for this time of year. It’s a notable barometer of change; the oceans absorb 90% of the Earth's warming from greenhouse gas emissions.  For the UK specifically, in June the Met Office and European Space Agency (ESA) flagged that water temperatures are as much as 3 to 4C above the average for this time of year in some areas. The sudden change has been flagged as significant.

The impact on our diets

It’s clear that climate change is already disrupting both food availability and quality. Headlines this week include that climate change is impacting speciality food production across Europe. Iberian pigs don’t have enough acorns to eat, the cows that produce Savoy cheeses don’t have enough grass to eat. And rising sea levels are affecting the rice fields of the Camargue region on southern France's Mediterranean coast.

But is it also changing our tastes? Our cravings? As a nation that annually experiences temperature fluctuations that reach below zero degrees, all the way up to last year’s record breaking 40⁰C, what we want to eat and drink – as well as what’s available – changes drastically throughout the year. So, in a new climate where warmer weather is becoming the norm, it stands to reason that there will also be a notable impact on what we want to drink too.

Seasonal drinking, when there are no seasons

These changes are already happening. According to sales data from US drinks retailer Drizly, Aperol has taken over Baileys as the number one Liqueur in the USA, claiming category share growth of 25% year-over-year. Spritz, and spritz adjacent products are in high demand, is says, as spritz products continue to be some of its top sellers. Aperol in particular has become the highest-selling liqueur on Drizly, with its share expanding within the category by 23% in June 2023 over June 2022.  

“While it is not a totally new trend, we have a significant spike this year,” says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights. “Additionally, we have seen the spritz trend carry into the ready-to-drink category, with new brands and releases recreating spritz cocktails into pre-made formats.”

Campari, another common spritz ingredient, has also seen four percent share growth year-over-year. Prosecco now accounts for 25% of share within the sparkling wine category on Drizly, compared to 22% during the same time period of 2022.

Rethinking ranges

Spritz serves of course, are trending for more reasons than just warm weather, but there can be no doubt that seasonal shifts are elongating the ‘spritz season’. So, with winter arriving later and later, do brands with traditionally winter-focused sales need to rethink their range? From Guinness to Bailey’s, there’s a number of brands and drinks types that are strongly associated with winter, that are now, notably, attempting to move beyond it.

It’s a space Bailey’s has concertedly been trying to move out of, not only through campaigns such as ‘Don’t Mind if I Baileys’ which shows it consumed across a wide range of occasions, to its flavour-based NPD. From Bailey’s Colada, Vanilla Mint Shake, Summer Berry Pavlova, Birthday Cake, Tres Leches, and Strawberries & Cream to name a few, Diageo has been making a concerted effort to not only match regional demand for flavours that resonate, but to provide a year-round reason to consume it.

In the US, there’s also been some interesting flavour innovation when it comes to Guinness, pushing the brand beyond the classic Irish stout. In 2021, the Guinness Open Gate Brewery Baltimore launched Guinness Salt & Lime Ale, with notes of lime peel, biscuit and sea salt. Keeping it within stout, it recently added Guinness Bubble Tea Stout, n celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Even for brands and liquids that do work in the summer months, moving with trending serves and consumer moods has become important. Just look to Peroni’s launch of Peroni Capri, a Mediterranean-inspired lager that includes Italian lemon zest. Did a lager brand need a more summer-focused product? Not necessarily. But it goes to show the increasing importance of brand versatility, and the need to tap into burgeoning lifestyle-associated needs and moments.

So which other brands may need to switch? As sales and weather patterns continue to shift over the coming years, drinks makers will increasingly see where the gaps and weak spots in their portfolios lie, and be challenged to make their sales seasons last longer through NPD.

Interestingly, it seems the sweet spot for such new product lies not only in the ability to create something that matches the warmer weather, that offers a lighter style or refreshment. The strongest brand extensions and launches will be those that pay attention to both local flavour trends, but lifestyle aspirations too. Tapping into desirable moments, and evoking a sense of the freedom, joy, and leisure pursuits that summer can bring, will be key, whether the reality of that summer matches the fantasy or not. And looking at the past couple of weeks for global weather events, the likelihood is, that it increasingly wont.

Interested in finding out more about what this might mean for you and your business?

Please contact us at or 0207 101 3933