Drinks which explore sensory experiences in your mouth are currently one of the hot new areas of innovation, according to Molun Zhang, from Coca-Cola’s South Pacific R&D satellite lab.

“Bubble tea really was the beginning of this. Bubble tea shops have been around since the 1980s in Taiwan but are incredibly popular now in New Zealand and Australia. Tapioca is used as the ‘bubble’ in the tea. It doesn’t really taste of anything other than having a touch of sweetness to it so is really there to add texture and a bit of solidity to the tea and slightly thicken the liquid.

“The other really popular sensory drink is Japan’s QOO which has been phenomenally popular since it launched nearly 20 years ago. It is a juice jelly that comes in a pouch in five core flavours. It’s very cute and is not only drunk by young people but by plenty of adults as well!”

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Japan’s QOO has been phenomenally popular since it launched nearly 20 years ago.

Zhang believes social media plays a key part in the development of drinks providing a sensory experience.

“Everything is ‘instagrammable’ these days. You want to see something unusual or different that creates some excitement and share it on social media.

“There’s also a trend towards drinks that are more filling and considered a meal replacement or snack.”

She says consumers have become more accustomed to sediment and pulp in juices as a result of these types of sensory drinks.

“We’ve seen juices containing chia and basil seeds take off. Partly this is the novelty of it but there are the perceived health benefits as well.”

“Basil seeds are about the size of sesame seeds and are a little bit chewy. Chia is a bit softer and more slippery.”

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Drinks which explore sensory experiences in your mouth are currently one of the hot new areas of innovation, according to Molun Zhang, from Coca-Cola’s South Pacific R&D satellite lab.

Zhang says aloe vera provides a soft, jelly-like texture and is used in still tea and juice drinks in Asia.

“Nata de coco is also increasingly being added to juice and dairy products in Asia Pacific. It’s a chewy, jelly-like food - a little like coconut flesh - that is also sweetened and used in dessert.

She says fruit sacs – the pulp with the juice still intact – are also being included in juices.

“These provide the experience of biting on the sac and the juice escaping, feeling more like actually eating a piece of fruit.

“And juices with fruit bits such as apple, pear and pineapple are particularly popular in China with stone fruits such peach and mango bits popular and readily available in Egypt and Turkey.”

Zhang says Coca-Cola is watching these trends closely and continually innovating in this space.

“It’s essential we keep ahead of people’s changing tastes and preferences.”