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Innovation Opportunities In Functional Beverages

Consumers have evolved their approach to achieving health and wellness goals by turning to functional foods and beverages that can deliver specific health benefits. In fact, 55% of consumers think that food or drinks can have the same or better health benefits as prescription medications.[1]

Specifically,consumers are seeking immune health benefits from their functional beverages. In fact, it’s the second most desired health benefit behind general health and wellness.

The key reason for the desire for immune health is likely due to the fact immune health is the foundation of a quality life and the cornerstone of the holistic approach to wellness that consumers seek. Good immune health goes hand in hand with productivity, mental clarity, quality of life, good mood and energy, reduced stress, and better athletic performance.


Beverages are a key platform for the added benefits that functional ingredients can provide. Data shows that the number of new performance and nutrition beverage launches carrying functional immune health benefits increased by 23% between 2013 and 2017.[2]

We see the following beverage categories as the top innovation areas for beverages fortified with functional ingredients that provide added health benefits.

As a format, beverages in a variety of categories are ideal for targeting diverse markets and specific demographic groups, from families with young children to older adults, and from athletes and weekend warriors to people experiencing stress. This means that, instead of casting a wide net, manufacturers should develop functional beverages by strategically targeting specific consumer groups and utilizing high-quality functional ingredients that are easy to formulate with.

While there is room for innovation in a variety of beverage categories, it’s important to realize that not every immune health ingredient can be part of a beverage delivery system. Knowing a functional ingredient’s strengths and limitations is critical when developing a beverage formulation that delivers the specific benefits that appeal to consumers.

Efficacy should also be a key consideration for manufacturers. Some functional ingredients are unable to survive beverage manufacturing processes like high heat and are therefore rendered ineffective. Product manufacturers should look for a clinically demonstrated, well-characterized ingredient that is able to withstand a product’s specific manufacturing requirements. While consumers are searching for functional benefits in beverages, only 22% of them believe the products deliver on the benefits claimed.[3] Utilizing a functional ingredient supported by clinical research can help to build consumer trust and create value in a beverage product. The research helps to easily communicate the benefits of the product, demonstrates efficacy, and ultimately allows consumers to make an informed choice about a product that fits their lifestyle needs.

For a deeper dive into these trends and market drivers that are influencing the functional beverage space, download our whitepaper: Capitalizing on Today’s Beverage Trends: Functional with Targeted Benefits


[1] GlobalData, “TrendSights Analysis: Wellbeing,” Dec 2016.

[2] Mintel, Nutrition and Performance Drinks – US, March 2017

[3] Mintel, Nutrition and Performance Drinks – US, March 2018

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