Work, rest and play: Functional beverages tap into consumer demands for convenience, sleep support and immune health
24 Feb 2020 --- Functional beverages are rising in popularity as consumers seek added nutritional benefits and health-boosting properties from the products they consume, often in convenient drinking formats that are easy to consume on the go. Better-for-you positionings maintain their appeal and the industry is prolific with NPD that offers functional benefits, as well as pleasant tastes. For 2020, key themes gathering pace in the beverage space are claims around cognitive function, aiding sleep and naturally maintaining energy levels. NutritionInsight takes a look at what is happening in this arena.
“Achieving a balance between work, rest and play”
For Döhler, the interest in functional nutrition is constantly growing. “Consumers are looking for solutions to combat tiredness, improve digestion, support the immune system and recover from stressful days – and this requires innovative ingredients to meet these demands. The products should furthermore be natural, have undergone as few processing steps as possible and have a high degree of functionality,” says Jens Birrer, Head of Market Segment Beverages, at Döhler.
For Elisa Glover, Nutrition Specialist at Volac, the ongoing popularity of beverages to help consumers cope with their busy lives will dominate this year. “Products that support them in achieving the balance between work, rest and play will be popular,” she says. “These products will be multitaskers, offering several benefits in the same drink.”
Consumers want to sleep better and sustain energy levels so they may be looking for alternatives to caffeine or products that provide a sense of maintaining energy levels naturally. In a recent global survey 27 percent of respondents had been looking to improve their sleeping patterns and 41 percent of respondents who took supplements did so to manage energy levels, notes Glover. “However, the top steps taken to improve health were improving the diet and exercising more, so any product that targets those areas is likely to be welcomed by consumers,” she adds.
According to John Quilter, Vice President and General Manager for Kerry, the popularity of drinks with functional benefits looks set to increase at a rapid pace in 2020. “Rather than looking for catch-all products with vague benefits, consumers increasingly want functional beverages that offer targeted nutrition. In particular, there are high levels of interest in beverages that deliver immune health support,” he tells NutritionInsight.
Tammy Fumusa, Registered Dietitian and Marketing Manager for Nutritional Beverages at Kerry, says that lifestyles are becoming very hectic, leading consumers to choose “convenience” products for on-the-go consumption in order to save time. “We expect fortified beverages with organic and functional ingredients to increase due to consumer preferences for healthier beverages. Beverages will have a purpose, such as hydration, energy and rejuvenation, health and wellness and weight management,” she explains.
One of the key themes will be in perceived medical or health benefits, such as promoting heart health, improving immunity and helping to boost energy. Beverages will be health-focused to include tea, soy milk, probiotic drinks, yogurt-based drinks, fortified milk and nutritional beverages, Fumusa explains. “We will also see overall themes of heart health, gut health, bone health, immunity, nutritive health and weight management in the F&B space heating up,” she affirms.
Data from Innova Market Insights has revealed that flavored milk, energy drinks, sports drinks, dairy, and fruit-flavored drinks continue to make up the largest share of the functional beverage market. However, there is also healthy growth in new areas with functional claims. For example, strong growth has been noted for beverages that address consumer demand for improved bone, heart, brain and immune health, with a CAGR from 2015-2019 of 27 percent, 27 percent, 15 percent and 9.9 percent, respectively.
Further strides in CBD
Meanwhile, David Tetzlaf, Director of Marketing at Evolva, notes that it is hard to ignore the rise of functional beverages that contain cannabidiol (CBD), particularly in the North American market. “According to the Innova Database, beverages with CBD expanded 328 percent in North America in 2019 versus 2018,” he notes.
“CBD continues to be a stand-out ingredient as we move into 2020 and beyond,” says Tetzlaf. Additionally, Innova Market Insights cites that functional beverages that offer value to customers via alternative health claims continue to be on the rise. Top health claims that are on the rise as a percent to new beverage launches include the areas of digestive/gut health, high sources of protein and probiotics. “Other claims that continue to do well and remain strong in 2020 are those with antioxidant or energy claims and are often related to sports nutrition,” he continues.
Further functional ingredients coming to the fore
Resveratrol is an exciting ingredient for functional beverages, according to Tetzlaf, because it has more than 12,000 scientific publications and 200 human clinical studies to support many health indications. “Resveratrol presents a multifaceted approach by addressing many areas of concern for health-conscious consumers, including improved mental performance, cardiovascular, skin, eye and bone health,” he explains. Science-based ingredients that deliver a proven health benefit continue to witness an ever-growing demand from consumers, Tetzlaf states.
Until now, resveratrol has had limited use in functional beverages due to its low solubility and dispersibility in aqueous environments. With this in mind, Evolva expects resveratrol to stand out in the functional beverages market due to the development of two new delivery systems with resveratrol, notes Tetzlaf.
Meanwhile, functional beverages infused with collagen, antioxidants, fiber and caffeine also show a trend that “signals a consumer shift from sugary soft drinks to beverages with benefits,” Tetzlaf adds, citing Innova Market Insights. “This trend in functional beverages over sugary drinks is why Evolva developed Veri-te Aqua resveratrol to meet these consumer demands and bring value to the functional beverage category with all the health benefits of resveratrol.”
“Beyond that, there is also a shift to combine ingredients in order to target synergistic health effects. One example is Vera Roasting innovative coffee blend by combining CBD and Veri-te resveratrol for heart health,” he comments.
Tetzlaf further cites that consumers have been bombarded by news on the importance of keeping a healthy microbial profile for gut health and, more recently, skin health. “Gut health and gut-brain axis will continue to gain traction as people are focusing on having a healthy microbiome to improve memory, inflammation, mood and even metabolism,” he continues. “We see interest in the gut-brain axis powerfully impacting the functional beverage market with the number of kombucha beverages that have been on the rise.”
The market is flooded with products that deliver benefits with standard ingredients that include caffeine, green tea, ginseng and black tea, to name a few, Tetzlaf notes. “We expect to see some breakthrough functional beverages that deliver health benefits with the support of clinical research that we continue to invest in,” he adds.
For Glover of Volac, protein will continue to be an ingredient that consumers look for. “Alternatives to the traditional milkshake-style protein drink are becoming more common and in parallel with the expectation that drinks provide multiple benefits, the line between sports nutrition and functional drinks will continue to blur in order to offer those multiple benefits,” she concludes.
By Elizabeth Green
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