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March 20, 2009
The nutraceutical market has exploded over the past decade, leading to the introduction of thousands of novel foods, beverages and herbal additives.
On the crest of this trend comes a class of nutraceutical beverages whose touted ingredient may be surprising—aloe vera. The same plant whose seeping leaves are commonly associated with soothing burns has, in recent years, become the key ingredient in a variety of beverages that users believe salves burning stomachs and tames painful hangovers.
The problem in marketing aloe beverages is that, like many nutraceutical ingredients, the plant’s natural flavor is unpleasant and needs to be masked in order to be palatable. Since most off-the-shelf flavors are designed to work under less-difficult conditions, they generally fall short in covering aloe’s astringently bitter, medicinal notes.
A solution for aloe beverage producers has been introduced by Flavor Dynamics, Inc. (FDI), whose All Natural Aloe line of natural liquid WONF flavors impart real-world fruit, mint or herbal notes to aloe beverages while masking the plant’s unpleasant flavor. The line was custom-designed using aloe in application, resulting in truer-flavored beverages with little or no unpleasant aftertaste.
“The bitter principles of aloe appear to be quite pH-sensitive,” explains Dolf DeRovira, president. “Adding acidic notes to the mix leads to an exceedingly harsh flavor profile, while soft, mellow notes of spice or cream can clash like milk with orange juice. The line, therefore, focuses on sweet, juicy flavors that gain a slight, nectar-like bite when combined with aloe’s bitter notes.”
The challenge of creating pleasant-tasting products in this difficult medium both limited the kinds of flavors FDI could use and steered the company toward some novel fruit combinations. “We let aloe’s flavor profile lead the line,” says DeRovira. “We took what the ingredient gave us and created a juicy, bright-tasting collection with both standard products, like Cranberry or Dark Sweet Cherry, and some interesting fruit fusions that just happen to work well with aloe, like Pineapple Kiwi or Papaya Lemonade.”
While the sale of aloe-containing drinks has thus-far remained principally the purview of health and fitness retailers in the United States, FDI believes that these beverages’ rising popularity in the Japanese market demonstrates potential crossover appeal for the American market as well—provided that producers can get the flavors right.
“The truth of the matter is that unpalatable beverages will be hard to market, regardless of the product’s healthful benefits,” explains DeRovira. “Our focus in creating this line is not simply to mask off-notes; it’s to create a truly delicious line of drinks.”
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