Cargill has indicated that it may take its Regenasure glucosamine chondroitin ingredient into functional beverages - yet it has emerged that another company's foray into the market has not proved positive, raising questions as to whether consumers are ready to depart from traditional delivery forms.
Although in its novel foods application Cargill said that no glucosamine of any source is presently used in beverages sold in Europe, in fact Mintel's Global New Products Database showed up several niche products, such as a tea from Wisdom of Nature in the UK and an energy drink from Yagua Food in The Netherlands.
Mintel analyst Carla Ogeia told NutraIngredients.com that the largest launch to date has been Complan Active in the UK, which hit shelves in retail stores last October.
However a spokesperson for Complan said that the company has taken the decision to discontinue the product after less than a year as it failed to meet sales targets.
"We have taken the view that it was not the right time," he said. "The over 50s market is not ready. We were five years too early."
The product was launched with an event at which the dance troupe Pan's People - fondly remembered by many men of a certain age for their appearances on UK music TV show Top of the Pops before music videos became common place.
But the spokesperson said that the company was not in a position to put the necessary funding behind the product to raise awareness to the level necessary.
Ogeia begged to differ on the bad timing, saying that the drink may have been only one year too early.
"I believe in the past few months we have seen more advanced claims coming into market," she said. Elderly people may be becoming more receptive to claims."
Certainly the elderly market is full of promise for the right product; as the first baby boomers are entering their senior years, but with higher standards of living, expectations and disposable incomes than previous generations.
They have the money and the inclination to spend on product that will keep them active for longer.
Moreover, the impending European health claims legislation should make claims more commonplace in retail outlets.
Thus, if Ogeia's prediction is correct, Cargill's move may not be as ill advised as Complan's experience could suggest.
Ogeia believes that the beverage format could work well for joint health based on the influx of heart health beverages launched recently. The time may have come for the next big thing and joint health, she believes, is a possible contender.
The spokesperson for Complan said the company may consider a re-introduction of the Active drink at a later time.
Beyond beverages, Ogeia said that there may also be potential for joint health foods. But new functional products usually start off with a liquid format, as seen with probiotic drinks, since these are easier to take and more portable.
She also said that Cargill's suggestion of sachet of dehydrated beverage mix is interesting, as Mintel has seen growth in this delivery method in the past year.