woman drinking beverage

Functional Beverages to Support Wellbeing

Here's a look at functional beverage trends, what consumers say is important in a healthy beverage, and how flavor influences the perception of a product’s healthfulness.


  • Wellbeing is the most important value that consumers associate with eating.
  • Beverage brands can address this with the right attributes, functional benefits, and flavors.
  • Holistic wellness beverages and mood drinks are segments to watch.
  • New opportunities are emerging in calming/relaxation beverages.

What Consumers Want in a Healthy Beverage

When Innova asked consumers about their most important values associated with eating, “wellbeing” came out on top, with more than one in three citing this.1 This shows that healthy food and beverage choices that support wellbeing are not an afterthought but instead a real priority to many consumers.

Functional beverage brands have an advantage in addressing this desire for wellbeing due to their expertise in using ingredients to target specific aspects of physical and mental health. The key is in knowing which attributes, functional benefits, and even flavors will appeal the most to today’s consumers.  

Top Attributes

For consumers globally, the top two most important attributes in a healthy beverage or food are freshness (37%) and natural ingredients (32%), reports Innova.2 (For Boomers, these rates are higher, at 44% and 39%, respectively).3 These expectations indicate beverage brands should consider fresh and natural ingredients and messaging around these as foundational for developing a healthy beverage.

Top Functional Benefits

For functional benefits in a beverage or food, immune-boosting is the most desirable to consumers, at 37%, followed by improving gut health (30%) and heart health (26%).4 Immune and gut support are particularly important to Millennial and Gen Z consumers. These groups have the highest purchase rate of food and beverage products for immune-boosting (41% and 40%) and for gut health (30% and 29%).5

Q: Which functions a food or beverage might offer are the most desirable to you?6

  • Boosting immunity (37%)
  • Improving gut health (30%)
  • Improving heart health (26%)
  • Improving sleep (21%)
  • Boosting mental focus and alertness (19%)
  • Supporting brain health (15%)

In addition, consumers are becoming more interested in products that support brain health. Among global food and beverage launches in the past five years with an active health claim, 14% feature a brain health claim, with brain health claims growing at a CAGR of 12% during this time.7 Products that offer both physical and mental benefits for holistic wellness are one of the latest trends in functional beverages.

Mood Drink Trends

Beverages with mental or mood benefits continue to address important consumer needs in the post-pandemic period—one in four consumers has chosen foods or beverages to help their mood during the past 12 months.8 While formulating with the right mood ingredients (whether for energy, focus, or calming) is essential, choosing the right flavors may also be.

cup of tea

Mood Flavors

Certain flavors are associated with specific mood benefits, and using the right ones can appeal to consumers, even influencing their perception of the product’s efficacy. Looking at recent mood drink launches, we see tea flavors (herbal, kombucha, and green tea) among the top ten flavors, along with herb flavors (lemongrass and basil).9

Top Ten Flavors in Mood Drink Launches

RankFlavorFlavor Category
1Herbal teaTea
2LemonCitrus fruit
3GingerSpicy spice
5Green teaTea
8PeachOrchard fruit
9CocoaBrown flavors
Source: Innova Market Insights, Mood Flavors in Beverages, 2022 (data: global, 12 months ending Q1 2021)

For mood drinks focused specifically on calming and relaxation, we see similarities to the top flavor launches for mood drinks overall but also the inclusion of two floral flavors (chamomile and lavender) noted for their calming and relaxation associations.10

Top Ten Flavors in Calming, Relaxation, and Sleep Beverage Launches

RankFlavorFlavor Category
1Herbal teaTea
3Green teaTea
5Lemon balmHerb
6LemonCitrus fruit
8GingerSpicy spice
10OrangeCitrus fruit
Source: Innova Market Insights, Mood Flavors in Beverages, 2022 (data: global, 12 months ending Q1 2021)

Opportunities in Calming and Relaxation Beverages

When Innova asked consumers which flavors they choose when they want to relax, only two of their answers (tea and citrus) show up in the top ten flavors actually used in calming and relaxation beverages.11 This indicates opportunities to use consumers’ other favorite relaxation flavors, perhaps with slightly different messaging: coffee and brown flavors (e.g., for a soothing indulgence), tropical fruit flavors (e.g., as a tropical getaway), and berry and orchard fruit flavors (e.g., like a relaxing summer picnic).12 

woman at the beach drinking beverage

Calming and relaxation beverages can also make use of de-stress positioning, which may have slightly different connotations and resonate in a different way with consumers. Recent beverage launches with this approach include Calm De-Stress Super Shot by Juice Lab Wellness (with extracts of lavender, chamomile, and hemp seed oil) and Sparkling Hop Water by HOP WTR (with ashwagandha “to destress and unwind”).

Your Partner for Functional Beverage Solutions

With wellbeing on consumers’ minds, functional beverage manufacturers are finding they have more options than ever to formulate beverages that can support consumers’ health goals—both physical and mental. Our expertise in health and wellness ingredients, experience in functional beverage formulation, and global footprint make us the perfect partner for you.  

We offer ingredient innovations like our TechVantage™ NutraShield™ Microencapsulations, which optimize nutrients (like ashwagandha) to perform better in applications while masking flavors and odors.  

Our BevFlax™ flaxseed provides a fiber and omega-3 ALA rich solution that results in an excellent beverage texture without grittiness. Leverage our extensive custom premix formulation capabilities to develop a beverage formulation that features the ingredients just right for your next wellness product. Our enticing Flavors by Foodarom offer the botanical, fruity, or indulgent flavors that best align with your product's wellness positioning. 

Contact us today to get started.

Frequently Asked Questions

functional beverage is a drink that provides a beneficial effect beyond basic nutrition. These health and wellness benefits can come from a wide range of bioactive ingredients—from adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha to MCTs for the keto diet to tryptophan for sleep support.

Some examples of functional beverages are energy drinks formulated with caffeine and B vitamins, sports drinks with added electrolytes and antioxidants, yogurt drinks that have probiotics, and beauty-from-within beverages containing collagen. The functional beverage market continues to grow as more people look for benefits like energy, relaxation, immune support, cognitive support, muscle building, and more.

Nutrient premixes are pre-blended nutrient powders that can include a variety of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, healthy fats, fibers, and bioactives, depending on the need. They can even include gums and flavors. Nutrient premixes are designed to be easy for manufacturers to add to foods, beverages, and supplements, with good flowability and uniform particle size to prevent the different nutrients from separating out.

There are vitamin-mineral blends, electrolyte blends, energy blends, keto blends, and oftentimes custom blends for companies that have a unique idea in mind for their fortified or functional products. Formulating with a nutrient premix instead of several individual ingredients saves a company time and simplifies purchasing, warehousing, and production. 

Dairy is the main source of calcium in the American diet, making it the top food group for supporting healthy bones at all ages. Dairy is also a source of high-quality protein, with all the essential amino acids in the right proportions to meet the needs of the body—especially important for muscle building and maintenance for active, sports performance, and aging consumers. Dairy also contains several beneficial bioactive proteins such as lactoferrin, which supports healthy iron levels.

Dairy alternatives such as plant-based milks and plant-based yogurts are often fortified, making them a good calcium source for those with milk allergies or lactose intolerance. Some are also high in plant-based protein. In addition, both dairy and dairy alternatives are often fortified with vitamin D to improve calcium absorption. Dairy/plant-based milk blends are a trend that combine the high-quality protein of dairy with the phytonutrients and lower calories of plant-based milks.


1. Innova Market Insights, Lifestyle & Attitudes Survey, 2022.
2-6. Innova Market Insights, Holistic Wellbeing, 2022 (average: 11 countries).
7. Innova Market Insights, Mood Health, 2022 (data: global, 5 years ending Q1 2022).
8. Innova Market Insights, Mood Health, 2022 (average: 11 countries).
9-10. Innova Market Insights, Mood Flavors in Beverages, 2022 (data: global, 12 months ending Q1 2021)
11-12. Innova Market Insights, Mood Flavors in Beverages, 2022 (average: 10 countries). 

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