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Food & Beverage Perspectives

2016 Functional Forecast: Beverages

Functional beverages
<p>The future is bright for functional beverages&#0151;ingredient innovation and technology, along with expanding consumer interest (and acceptance) of healthy ingredients, will open doors for functional beverages in 2016.</p>

The future is bright for functional beverages—ingredient innovation and technology, along with expanding consumer interest (and acceptance) of healthy ingredients, will open doors for functional beverages in 2016.

INSIDER identified key trends predicted to impact the functional beverage space in 2016:

Favoring Unfavorable Formats – Traditionally, shakes and smoothies have been favorable formats for functionality, which is no surprise considering shakes and smoothies offer a variety of flavors and textures conducive to masking nutritional ingredients. While this has been great for smoothie and shake developers, the challenges associated with functional ingredients (e.g., unwanted solubility, turbidity, taste and mouthfeel effects) have prevented functional innovation in certain beverage categories. But as technology evolves, doors are opening. In 2016, expect to see popular functional ingredients, such a protein, appearing in less-traditional formats (Protein water, anyone?).

Spanning, Not Segregating, the Generations – Crossing the generations will be key to beverage development in 2016. Demographics are a focal point when talking market strategy, with much emphasis directed to Millennials and Boomers—two groups with unique needs and impressive spending power. While marketers have found favor in past years appealing to one group or the other, developers will find the most success in 2016 formulating products that appeal to cross-generational health states. Think: sustained energy and cognitive performance, for instance. 

Functional Focus – “Functional" is a tricky term in our highly fortified world, and one that is often left to interpretation. This is especially true for beverages, which have been fortified with key nutrients for years—vitamin D in milk, for example, or ascorbic acid in orange juice. These products offer functional ingredients, but are they functional? Technically speaking, no. Traditionally, functional products, whether food or beverages, are developed to provide specific health benefits (e.g., weight management and sports nutrition). In 2016, you’ll see increased demand among mainstream consumers for functional beverages that are, well, functional. Just as sports-nutrition products have leaped beyond body builders and into the hands of weekend warriors, active moms and the like, everyday “Joes" are aligning their health needs with products that are convenient and can be incorporated easily into a busy, high-demand lifestyle. 

Check back tomorrow for more on our 2016 functional forecast: beverage trends.

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