Soft drink formulation: Industry braced for long-term changes

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Soft drinks Soft drink looks at the industry response to meeting consumer and regulatory additive concerns, in the second instalment of a two-part article on emerging innovation in soft drink formulation.

The British Soft Drink Association (BSDA) claims that its members’ attempts to find alternate formulations for their products has been a long-term aim and commitment and not a knee jerk response to recent research like the Southampton and diabetes studies.

A spokesperson for the group claimed that while all colours and additives appearing in its products were cleared for use in the EU, soft drink makers are nonetheless looking to develop a new generation of ingredients capable of addressing consumer concerns.

“The industry has been moving towards the use of more ‘natural’ ingredients for some time now so reformulation is not occurring because of recent research but due to the ability to the soft drinks industry to listen successfully to the needs of consumers and respond,” the spokesperson said.

'Wellbeing' push

In attempting to move away from sugar sweetened beverages, the BSDA added that soft drink makers are increasingly focusing on formulations designed to offer ‘health’ and ‘wellbeing’ benefits.

The growing focus on health and wellbeing.. has led to increasing consumption of fruit juice; sales of smoothies for instance grew by 44 per cent last year,”​ stated the spokesperson. “Over 61 per cent of soft drinks are now low calorie or no added sugar and this is reflected in the growth last year in diet carbonated drinks and the ongoing popularity of low sugar and high juice dilutables.”

The association claims that aside from taste innovation, the safety and nutrition of its products was the key factor in meeting reformulation challenges.

“Key to the success of the soft drinks industry is its ability to adapt and innovate and we will continue to do so in this constantly evolving climate in which we now operate,” the BSDA stated. “Health and convenience, in general, look set to remain a focus for the future development of soft drinks, and drinks supporting consumers’ five a day regime look set to blossom.”

The BSDA said that it was also attempting to do more to push the message of soft drink consumption within a balanced and healthy diet and lifestyle.

[Two weeks ago], some soft drinks companies announced their participation in the new initiative against obesity launched by the Advertising Association,” ​said the association spokesperson.

Innovation concerns

Hans Thorkilgaard, executive vice president of Chr. Hansen's colour division, said that many soft drinks groups in Europe were having to consider reformulating colouring used in their drinks amidst growing pressure from regulators.

Speaking to in April, Thorkilgaard said that while global market research indicated that a big change was already underway in the use of colours by the industry, natural additives were becoming increasingly important for drinks makers.

"Only about 10 per cent of food colours available to beverage makers and confectioners are natural as opposed to synthetic dyes,"​ he said. "In terms of dairy or meat processing, about 70 to 80 per cent of colourings on offer are natural."

Thorkilgaard said that while many major soft drink makers had been pro-active in reformulating their beverages, there was huge global potential for both existing and future developments in natural ingredients.

He said that this increasingly natural focus was apparent in the work of a number of European manufacturers, particularly in Scandinavia, where colourings had - in some cases - been removed from soft drinks.

The first part of this article was published on on Friday and can be found here​.

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