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Functional beverages exist for so many need-states that it almost seems like science fiction. Need an immune boost? Can’t focus? Want brighter, more tightened skin? There’s a beverage for that.
December 18, 2018
Consumers are embracing functional beverages because they are a delicious and convenient way to absorb the inherent benefits of nutritional ingredients. In addition to fruits, vegetables and herbs that are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, beverage brands are incorporating ingredients like melatonin and CoQ10 that were previously only sold in oral supplements to help consumers achieve their personal lifestyle goals.
Improved sleep, energy, cognitive function, beauty, weight loss and gut health will be the most desired benefits from products next year but expect products that support even more personalized needs such as oral or cardiovascular health to launch as well. Several sub-trends are driving significant innovation within the functional product category.
Coffee that delivers health benefits beyond a healthy dose of caffeine will be in the spotlight. This is especially attractive for consumers who demand convenient formats and enjoy getting multiple benefits from a single product. Expect coffee to be fortified with additional functional ingredients like protein, MCT oil, CBD oil, and adaptogens like reishi mushrooms.
Ingredients such as blue algae, beet, matcha, butterfly pea flower and purple tea make beautiful beverages that are chock-full of health benefits has made them a staple on Instagram. Butterfly pea flower tea will be the rising star of 2019 because it is high in antioxidants and naturally changes color from blue to purple when acidity is added to it. Expect to see more antioxidant-rich purple tea products as well this year if the supply chain matures.
Consumers are becoming more familiar with ingredients deep-rooted in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine because they have appeared in products like coffee, smoothies, wellness shots and cold-pressed juices. Turmeric, medicinal mushrooms, schisandra, ashwagandha and goji berries have a history in these ancient traditions and will be top functional ingredients in new beverage launches.
Probiotic-rich and probiotic-fortified beverages including kombucha, juices and enhanced waters have been popular the last few years and won’t lose momentum in 2019. Shrubs are another gut-friendly beverage category made with fruit and vinegar which is said to alkalize the gut. They’re currently dominating cocktail menus and appearing in spritzers and mocktails.
Hemp-derived Cannabidiol (CBD) will be a popular ingredient in products across beverage categories next year and beyond. CBD is suggested to aid with pain, nausea, seizures, anxiety and depression making it an enticing functional ingredient. It’s also risqué in nature because of the controversial sourcing of the ingredient, and that may add to its appeal. Cannabis industry analysts The Brightfield Group predict the U.S. CBD market will reach $591 million this year and $22 billion by 2022, representing a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 132 percent). On a much smaller scale will be non-alcoholic beverages enhanced with THC in states where cannabis is legal.
There are so many functional beverages on the market that consumers can pick and choose products that fulfill their individual needs. Although some ingredients and taste profiles may be unfamiliar to consumers, they are purchasing these products because of the benefits brands promise their product delivers. Is there an ingredient or product that caught your attention, or another ingredient that you think will gain notice in the functional beverage category? I’d love to continue the conversation about the functional beverages more in depth. As always, you can email me at [email protected].
marketing consultant, Imbibe
Holly McHugh is the marketing associate at Imbibe, a Chicago-based beverage development company. She focuses on the company's external communications and brand awareness. She also monitors and analyzes beverage trends to guide clients in making strategic decisions about product development. She has a bachelor's degree from Columbia College Chicago and a master's degree from the University of Denver.
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