BI Nutraceuticals foresees fiber and bitter drinks to be next trends in functional beverages

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

BI Nutraceuticals has been selling more pysllium seed husk, a source of soluble dietary fiber.
BI Nutraceuticals has been selling more pysllium seed husk, a source of soluble dietary fiber.

Related tags: Nutrition

BI Nutraceuticals predicts that its fiber-rich and bitter-tasting ingredients will become as popular as protein currently is in beverage applications.

BI has a library of 200 generally recognized as safe (GRAS) ingredients to help food and beverage manufacturers match ingredients to the functional benefits they wish to promote in their products. All of BI’s botanical ingredients undergo an organic sterilization via proprietary steam sterilization.

“We have close to nature ingredients, but we also have the processing expertise and the sourcing expertise to give our customers," ​BI certified food scientist Alison Raban told BeverageDaily.

“We’re bridging the gap.”

Close to nature but still safe to consume

“Sterilization is our big thing,”​ Raban said. “There’s this reality that consumers want things that are close to nature, but manufacturers still have to make safe food as in not only free from additives, but also microbially safe, so you literally don’t get food poisoning from it.”

Due to the fact that many botanical ingredients such as ginger or turmeric root come originate from the soil, sterilization is a key advantage BI offers its customers. The company uses a “green steam sterilization” ​process which does not use any solvents or harsh chemicals.

“The manufacturers that are making a beverage mix, don’t have to worry about sterilizing the ingredients again,”​ certified food scientist and vice president of marketing for BI Randall Kreienbrink told BeverageDaily.

Fiber focused beverages

BI exports its botanical ingredients worldwide but has noticed a high demand for fiber powders and extracts among young Asian women, particularly in Japan. In addition, Raban has noticed an uptick in the sales of psyllium fiber products, something the company has been selling for years.

“Fiber drinks are really much more popular with young Japanese women, where in the US I feel when we talk about fiber, it’s associated with baby boomers,”​ Raban said. “There’s almost this beauty aspect of: I’m going to take these fiber ingredients to look better and feel better.”

Raban believes that fiber drinks can rise in the ranks of popularity just as protein beverages did, but it will first have to overcome some marketing and R&D challenges.

“Fiber usually makes things thick and gritty,” ​Raban said. However, when used in thicker beverages like a fruit smoothie, fiber can be incorporated more easily, she added.

Both Raban and Kreienbrink said that consumers will start seeing more fiber-filled beverages but developing a marketing strategy to appeal to younger generations will be challenging.

“It’s just a little bit less sexy to talk about,”​ Raban said.

Consumers are more accepting of bitter and sour flavors

According to Raban and Kreienbrink consumers are more sophisticated in their flavor and nutritional preferences. The company has noticed manufacturers incorporated more bitter ingredients into beverages because consumers have become more accepting of the flavor profile because of their increased knowledge of the nutritional claims associated with certain botanical powder and extracts.

“That’s a general food and beverage trend that you’re seeing, which is nice for us because a lot of our ingredients are inherently bitter,”​ Raban said. 

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