A Guide to the Immune Health Beverage Market

A Guide to the Immune Health Beverage Market

The global immune health beverage market is growing steadily, with a projected value of $135 Billion USD by 2025. While it’s true that the pandemic played a role in raising consumer awareness around immune health, this trend reflects growth drivers already in play over the last several years.

As consumers continue to search for ways to incorporate immune health support into their daily lives, functional beverages are a category in which consumers are expressing interest. In particular, this market is seeing growth around the use of yeast beta glucans to support immune health. In this Guide we explore this thriving market, the trends driving it, and new formulation opportunities arising from increased consumer demand for immune health beverages.

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What’s behind surging demand for immune health beverages?

The global functional beverage market was worth $102B in 2020, and growth is predicted at a CAGR of 3.2% through 2025. Both North America and Asia Pacific account for much of this expansion, but other regions exhibit strong performance as well.

Driving this growth is the fact that immune health is rapidly becoming  a primary concern for consumers.


of global consumers as of late 2020 reported associating a poor immune system with being susceptible to long-term health problems.


of global consumers Kerry surveyed also noted the effect of a poor immune system on day-to- day health problems.

Who’s Drinking What?

Beverages with functional benefits resonate with consumers of all ages. But preferences can be specific to individual demographics. Awareness of consumer purchase behaviors can yield formulation opportunities for a variety of age groups.

  • For instance, although beverages like carbonated soft drinks, fruit beverages and other non-alcoholic drinks are typically purchased by adults, many are consumed by children. Enriching these beverages with immune health benefits could help increase the appeal of kids’ drinks in the eyes of parents. And that means it could also give the children’s beverage category a much-needed innovation boost.

girl drinking juice boxGet 6 top insights on the market for children’s immune health beverages.

Man drinking bottle of juice after working outWhat to know about enhancing the performance of sports nutrition beverages with immune health benefits.

  • The market for immune health beverages for adults, particularly those who are health-conscious, as well as active seniors, is also expanding, as consumers continue to focus on their well-being.

Formulating personalized beverage options with immune health benefits tailored to a specific demographic can lead to formulation opportunities. Because beverages are a convenient, in-demand platform for the added benefits that functional ingredients can provide, there is room for innovation in all categories of functional beverages with immune health benefits

Global trends, regional opportunities?

With immune health top-of-mind, consumers are turning to functional beverages to obtain benefits. While some growth in the desire to support immune health can be attributed to the pandemic, consumer interest is broadening to include formulation opportunities across various regions.

Global trends in functional beverage markets include:

  • A strong focus on health claims, with many products offering multiple benefits.
  • High levels of interest in immune health – the number-one desired benefit consumers want from healthy lifestyle products, according to recent Kerry research.
  • An often challenging regulatory environment.

Wellmune infographic on growing demand for immune health beverage trendsSee what’s behind the growing demand for beverages with immune health benefits.

The importance of scientific substantiation in helping manufacturers navigate diverse regulatory environments also resonates with consumers.

In all regions, at least half the consumers Kerry surveyed were more likely to purchase a healthy lifestyle product after seeing the research/scientific data.


In a 2019 FMCG Gurus survey 87% of Italian respondents, 82% of those in Germany and 64% of those in France reported purchasing drinks with functional benefits. Wellness continues to resonate, with 64% of consumers in Germany, for example, saying improving immune health is a goal over the next twelve months.

In this region, scientific substantiation is a key driver in influencing consumer purchase decisions. Nearly  a third of UK consumers who responded to Kerry’s survey cited researching a product’s benefits as a top reason to purchase a healthy lifestyle product. But regulations in Europe are complex and can vary by country. Scientific substantiation is key to providing clear information about beverages with immune health benefits for consumers in this region.

Learn more about the evolving demand for immune health benefits in Europe

Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa

Functional beverage markets across the APMEA region are increasingly responding to need states closely associated with immune health, for example, fatigue, stress, and anxiety.  In response, this region is seeing strong growth in refreshing functional beverages like energy drinks, bottled waters, and juices. In particular, demand for energy-boosting beverage options is fueling growth in Asia, with new product development in the region up by nearly 25% in 2020, according to a report by Innova.

asian runner drinking small imageGet more insight on Asia’s immune health market.

Regulatory requirements in the APMEA region vary by country. In general, manufacturers should provide as much information as possible, especially on product packaging, to foster consumer trust.

Latin America

Claims relating to immune health, energy, alertness, and digestive health are the fastest growing in the beverage category in Latin America. Because of differences in requirements for product labelling among countries, providing information on benefits can be tricky. Formulating with science-backed ingredients can help manufacturers provide clear benefits for consumers.

North America

Trends in the region’s functional beverage sector include growing demand for products with functional ingredients like adaptogens, and those with “stackable benefits.” For example, beverages that offer immune health alongside other benefits, such as energy, are resonating with consumers.

In this market, as in other regions, scientific substantiation is a key driver in influencing consumer purchase decisions. In fact, more than half (51%) of U.S. respondents to Kerry’s recent survey said that they are encouraged to purchase a healthy lifestyle product after doing their own research on the product’s ingredients and benefits.


How do emerging formats reflect demand?

The growing demand for functional beverages may also be in response to the rejection of options thought to be less healthy. Recent studies have reported a sharp decline in alcohol consumption among young people, partly because they are concerned about its health risks.  There is also evidence that many are turning away from sodas. In fact, some research shows that the youngest consumers are now the least likely to buy traditional soft beverages.

There has been a surge of interest in the functional beverage category, particularly in some emerging formats. Between 2016 and 2019, Euromonitor reports launches of products with an immunity claim grew by 9% in the juice category, 43% in flavored bottled waters, and 32% in energy drinks.

Energy Drinks

In the energy drink space, manufacturers are responding to consumer demand for beverages with more functionality than the high-sugar, high-caffeine options that traditionally predominate. They are increasingly formulating with whole food ingredients such as ginseng and gingko biloba, which offer perceived health benefits, and can lend credibility as well as a cleaner label.

Refreshing Beverages

Immune health is among the top 4 growing functional claims in refreshing beverages, with Innova reporting over 400 launches of these products with immune health benefits in 2020. In this category are options like bottled waters, juices, fruit drinks and teas.

Bottled Waters

Bottled waters are now providing benefits far beyond hydration. The wealth of ingredients that aid health in beverages now includes protein, vitamins and minerals, electrolytes, fiber, probiotics, and beta glucans.

Hybrid Beverages

Hybrid beverages, the result of a combination of two or more drink categories – like flavored waters or sparkling juices – are often seen as healthier than traditional products. For example, sparkling waters blended with fruit juice can be a reduced-calorie alternative to sodas, while nutrient-enhanced waters combine functionality with hydration.

In the hybrid beverages category, immune health now ranks fourth in the list of top ten global health claims, with ample opportunity for market growth, reflecting consumers’ level of interest in supporting their wellness.

What’s driving continuing innovation in functional beverage markets?

Continuing innovation in the functional beverage market is dependent on clear substantiation of the immune health benefits offered by products. Keys to success in formulating immune health foods, beverages, and supplements aligned with healthy nutrition is to include scientific, regulatory, sustainability and marketing considerations right from the start.

The keys to success.

Kerry’s technical knowledge and expertise in regulatory environments and manufacturing processes can help solve complex challenges in partnership with customers, supporting them throughout the product development cycle, and helping them navigate regulatory environments.

Backed by more than a dozen clinical studies demonstrating safety and efficacy, Wellmune®, Kerry’s branded yeast beta glucan for immune health provides consumers with research-supported benefits, delivering on transparency and building trust. Wellmune’s scientific backing makes it easy for to create functional products, like beverages with immune health benefits, and helps consumers to choose the foods, beverages and supplements that will meet their needs.

Looking for more information about creating immune health beverages? Wellmune®, a research-backed yeast beta glucan, can help.

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Related Immunity Reads:

Innova Market Insight, 2020
Euromonitor Passport
FMCG Gurus, Non-alcoholic Beverages Survey, Q4, 20190
FMCG Gurus, Top Trends for 2021, December 2020
Innova New Products Database, 2019
Kerry Global Consumer Survey, Digestive and Immune Health, 2019

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