Market Overview and Growth Forecast
According to Euromonitor, the global functional beverages market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 5.5% from 2019 to 2024. Euromonitor identifies Asia Pacific as the largest market, followed by North America and Europe, with strong future growth expected in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.1
While the largest segments of functional beverages are energy and sports drinks, yogurt and dairy-alternative beverages, and functional juices have all become part of the ever-expanding category of functional beverages. Functional carbonates and water are forecasted to see over 6% CAGR in the next few years.2 Adding a protein or custom nutrient premix to any beverage can transform it into a functional beverage to provide more value to consumers.
Popular Functional Ingredients
Fortifications range from vitamins and minerals that address nutrient shortfalls to trendy ingredients like turmeric, activated charcoal, collagen, and cannabinoids, whose potential health benefits are still being explored. The most popular categories of functional ingredients include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Amino acids
- Herbs and herbal extracts
- Tea and coffee extracts
- Superfruit extracts
Any combination of these ingredients can be incorporated into a custom nutrient premix for easy addition to a beverage. Although formulating with functional ingredients addresses consumers’ demand for customized health and wellness, repeat purchase is largely driven by taste, so it’s critical to find a delicious way to deliver those health benefits.
How to Flavor a Functional Beverage
Functional beverages have unique flavor challenges in overcoming the often bitter or unpleasant tastes of functional ingredients. One useful technology is microencapsulation, a process that coats the ingredient particles (often with an oil or edible wax) to mask their taste and odor. Another option is the use of flavor technology, such as bitter maskers.
A functional beverage can also be formulated with inherently bitter flavors (such as coffee, chocolate, cardamom, or grapefruit) to work with the ingredients rather than against them. Alternatively, spicy flavors (like ginger or cayenne) or sweet, indulgent flavors (like caramel macchiato or maple) can be used to mask the off tastes of functional ingredients.
Trending Flavors in Functional Beverages
With those flavor challenges in mind, the most promising flavors for functional beverages this year are:
- Citrus flavors – grapefruit, orange, clementine, lemon, kaffir lime, and calamansi
- Peppers – cayenne, chili, jalapeno, and habanero
- Asian spices – ginger, cardamom, chai, and Chinese five spice
- Floral flavors – elderflower, hibiscus, jasmine, and chrysanthemum
- Sweet brown flavors – honey, caramel, and maple
- Fresh cut oranges, grapefruits, limes and lemons.