Guide to Launching a Beverage Product for Industry Outsider

Many entrepreneurs who come to Agilery have an impressive business background, a product idea and a brand strategy. What they lack is insider knowledge of the food industry. We have to say it straight up - bringing a product to a highly regulated European market is not for the faint-hearted.

(Quote from founders)

But with our expert tips on how to get your beverage idea to market, you are one step closer to success.

  • How to create the beverage concept that consumers want AND need
  • How to develop and validate your beverage prototype
  • How to navigate regulatory requirements and compliance in bev industry
  • How to include sustainable practices from the start
  • How to pick the right strategy for packaging and labelling
  • How to partner with the right producers and suppliers to grow your business
  • How to brace yourself for operational challenges

Create the beverage concept that consumers want AND need

Create the beverage concept that consumers want AND need The beverage industry holds huge potential for entrepreneurs looking to secure their place in a thriving market. The revenue for the European non-alcoholic drinks alone was forecasted to increase by 37.8% in the next 4 years.

Choosing the right beverage category is crucial for a successful product. To ensure product success both short and long term, the beverage has to deliver on both - what the consumer needs and and what the customer wants.


With respect to what consumer wants, here is an overview of the trending beverage categories in 2023:

  • Functional beverages and energy drinks
    According to Euromonitor International there is an increase in outcome-oriented and need-based positioning of beverages. Beverages such as energy drinks, ready-to-drink coffees, cognitive enhancers, and sports performance beverages belong to this category.

  • Non-alcoholic spirits and mocktails
    No-alcohol beverages that offer the social experience of drinking without the alcohol content, making them appealing to a broader audience.

  • Plant-based dairy alternatives
    These include plant-based milk alternatives (such as almond, soy, oat, and coconut milk), dairy-free yoghourts, vegan protein shakes.

  • Craft and artisanal beverages
    Consumers are increasingly seeking unique and high-quality beverages. Craft beers, specialty coffees, small-batch spirits, and artisanal sodas are all part of this trend.

  • Wellness beverages
    Functional benefits, such as enhanced hydration, natural ingredients, vitamins, and antioxidants, are in high demand. This includes products like infused waters, herbal teas, kombucha, and wellness shots.

To assess market potential, find statistics suited for your chosen beverage category. Great resources you can find on the following websites:

"The revenue for the European non-alcoholic drinks alone was forecasted to increase by 37.8% in the next 4 years."


Develop and validate your beverage prototype

If you have conceptualised your beverage idea, decided on flavour profiles, ingredients, and unique selling points that will set your product apart in the market, you are off to a great start. Before getting into cooking, we recommend validating your beverage concept by conducting market research. 

Gather feedback from potential consumers through surveys, focus groups. This will help you gauge their preferences, identify areas for improvement, and ensure that your prototype aligns with consumer expectations.

After the first product validation is done, it’s time to roll out your sleeves and put on a chef's hat.

New Beverage Recipe Development

Experiment with different combinations of ingredients and proportions to create the desired taste and quality for your beverage. Test and refine the recipe through multiple iterations to achieve the perfect balance of flavours and textures. 

In this stage, having an experienced professional at hand accelerates the process a lot. Industry specialists know how to reach your desired flavour by spending years crafting innovative drinks. We at Agilery can create a finished product within 6-8 weeks

Create Prototype Samples

Once you have finalised your recipe, it's time to produce prototype samples of your beverage. Start with small-scale production to test the viability of your recipe in larger quantities. This will allow you to make any necessary adjustments before moving to commercial-scale production.

Test for Quality and Safety

Does your prototype meet quality and safety standards? Analyse factors such as shelf life, microbiological stability, and nutritional content. Adhere to relevant regulations and certifications to guarantee the safety and integrity of your product. (learn more in the next section)

Gather Industry Feedback and Iterate

Distribute your prototype samples to a select group of consumers, retailers, or industry experts for feedback. Pay attention to their comments, suggestions, and criticisms to further refine your beverage. Make modifications based on the feedback you received. When your prototype passes the second stage of validation it’s time to make sure that your delicious drink is also regulatory compliant.

Navigate regulatory requirements and compliance in beverage industry

Beverage industry is highly regulated - from recipe, nutritional claims to packaging and production compliance. Unsurprisingly, legal  fines could compromise the success of your beverage product. Regulations differ from country to country and therefore you should familiarise yourself with the local regulatory requirements and compliance standards. Here are the main areas to focus on. 

Conduct Ingredient Analysis

Review the ingredients used in your beverage formulation. Ensure they comply with regulations regarding safety, permitted additives, and maximum limits for certain substances. Consider factors such as allergens, artificial sweeteners, food colorings, and preservatives. Conduct thorough research and consult experts if needed.

Labelling and Packaging Compliance

Pay close attention to labelling requirements for your beverage product. Include all mandatory information such as product name, ingredients list, allergen declarations, nutritional facts, net quantity, manufacturer details, and any required health or dietary claims. Follow specific guidelines regarding font size, placement, and language requirements. See more in the next section. 

Health and Nutrition Claims

If you plan to make specific health or nutrition claims on your product, ensure they are supported by scientific evidence and comply with regulations. Avoid misleading or exaggerated claims that could violate advertising standards. Refer to authorised health claim lists or consult with regulatory authorities for guidance.

Production and Manufacturing Practices

Implement good manufacturing practices (GMP) to ensure the safety and quality of your beverage. Establish standard operating procedures (SOPs) for hygiene, sanitation, ingredient handling, storage, and production processes. Regularly monitor and document your manufacturing practices to maintain compliance.

Testing and Certifications

Every commercial product has to be tested for safety and quality internally, so that you are ready for the external regulatory checks. This may involve microbiological testing, chemical analysis, and sensory evaluations. Having recognized  certifications or accreditations such as ISO or HACCP demonstrates compliance and builds trust with consumers.

Stay Updated and Seek Professional Advice 

Regulations can change over time, so it's crucial to stay up-to-date. If you don’t have the time to subscribe to industry newsletters, attend conferences, your best bet is to couple up with industry experts to get the needed guidance tailored to your product and market. For example, if you launch your beverage with Agilery, you will get a legal advisor included in your project. 

When you’ve ensured that your beverage prototype meets all necessary regulations, such as labelling, nutritional information, and ingredient declarations, it’s time to future proof your production strategy.

Include sustainable practices from the start

When launching a new beverage product, you have the chance to incorporate sustainable practices from the beginning. That's a big advantage to established brands that have to force-tweak existing practices.

Start by choosing sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients, select a co-manufacturer that already has sustainable production processes, such as minimising waste and energy and water usage. Consider transportation methods that reduce carbon emissions.

Conduct a lifecycle assessment, seek certifications, and collaborate with sustainability-focused organisations. By implementing these practices, you can create a beverage product that is both environmentally conscious and appealing to eco-conscious consumers.

Partner with the right producers and suppliers to grow your business

Finding the right contract manufacturer and establishing a reliable supply chain is critical to the success of your beverage brand. Take the time to thoroughly assess your options, prioritise quality and consistency, and build strong relationships with your manufacturing and supply partners.

Our tips to get a great ingredient supplier
  • Identify your specific needs such as batch sizes, packaging formats, and quality standards. 

  • Verify that your suppliers can provide documentation and traceability records for each ingredient. This helps in the event of a recall or quality issue.

  • Maintain an efficient inventory management system to prevent stockouts or excess inventory. Monitor demand patterns, lead times, and production schedules to ensure you have adequate stock to meet customer needs without excessive holding costs.

  • Work with your suppliers and logistics partners to optimise transportation and minimise lead times and cut emissions

  • Establish contingency plans for supply chain disruptions, have alternative suppliers or backup manufacturing options. 

How to find a great beverage manufacturer
  • Check production capacity, consider factors such as lead times, scalability, and the ability to meet your future demand as your business grows.

  • Evaluate capabilities and expertise - do they have the technical capabilities, equipment, and processes to ensure they can handle your product formulation and packaging requirements?

  • Evaluate contract manufacturer's quality control measures, certifications, and adherence to regulatory standards. Inquire about their testing procedures, ingredient sourcing, and quality assurance protocols to ensure consistent quality.

  • Request detailed quotes from multiple contract manufacturers and compare their pricing structures. Consider factors such as manufacturing costs, packaging costs, and any additional services or fees involved. Strive to strike a balance between cost considerations and the quality and value provided.

Brace yourself for operation challenges

Is your beverage product ready for its launch? Irrespective of the extent of your preparations, you are bound to come across a few hurdles. We have identified the 5 most common challenges that you can proactively strategize for.

Challenge #1: Quality of ingredients is not consistent

Our tip: We can’t emphasise strongly enough the importance of partnering with credible suppliers, evaluate their track record, request samples, and visit their facilities if possible. Establish strong relationships with suppliers to ensure a steady supply and negotiate favourable terms.

Challenge #2: Choosing production facilities if you're unsure about the scale of production 

Our tip: Conduct a detailed assessment of your production needs, including volume, process requirements, and budget constraints. Seek advice from industry experts or consultants to determine whether it's more feasible to invest in equipment or outsource production to a co-packer.

Challenge #3: Scaling up your recipe without compromising quality, taste and texture

Our tip: Work closely with food scientists, consultants, or experienced professionals to optimise your recipe for large-scale production. Conduct frequent taste tests and quality checks to ensure consistency throughout the scaling process.

Challenge #4: Navigating regulations when scaling up beverage to more countries

Our tip: Thoroughly research and understand the regulations that apply to your beverage, including labeling, ingredient declaration, and food safety regulations. Seek advice from regulatory experts or hire a consultant to help ensure compliance.

Challenge #5: Managing a complex supply chain, while focusing on growing business

Our tips: To focus all energy on growth is an imperative for a young brand. Unburden your to-do list by optimize your inventory management processes to minimise stockouts or excess inventory. Consider implementing a supply chain management system to streamline operations and improve efficiency. Outsource operations to experts in the beginning. 

FAQ for bringing beverage to market

How much does it cost to launch a beverage product? 

Bringing a beverage to market can have a large cost range. The main factors that determine the cost are:

  • Product development and costs associated with recipe development, formulation, flavour testing, and product prototyping. 

  • Manufacturing, depending on production volume, contract manufacturer fees, and the complexity of the production process, ingredients, packaging materials, labour, equipment, and overhead expenses. 

  • Packaging, such as packaging material, label design, printing, and application costs, Marketing, branding, website development, packaging design, social media marketing, advertising campaigns, and product sampling, regulatory compliance (obtaining necessary certifications, conducting laboratory testing, and ensuring compliance with labelling requirements. 

  • Logistics such as warehousing, transportation, shipping, and working with distributors or retailers. 

Contact us and get an accurate estimate, recommendations on how to optimise your costs to grow your brand faster. 

How long does it take to launch a beverage product?

As there are many steps involved, the average beverage launch takes somewhere between 2-4 years. 

With Agilery, we take a lean approach in each phase of the launch and can speed up the process to only a few months. Accelerated launching process lowers your costs and with that also the risk of exploiting your funding before your beverage gets on the shelves. 

Can I start a beverage brand from home?

Some of our clients created their beverage prototypes at home and that is very fine. As soon as the recipe prepares for scaling, questions such as shelf life and consistency need to be considered. The final product is usually produced in a controlled environment such as a commercial kitchen. 


Revenue in European Beverage Industry from 2017 to 2027 in billions USD divided by product category. Source: Statista. 

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