The beverage development company has seen a rise in functional claims surrounding immune support, beauty enhancement, detoxifying benefits, and improved cognition.
“Thanks to the proliferation of functional products they [consumers] can pick and choose beverages with benefits that fulfill their individual needs,” Imbibe marketing associate Holly McHugh told BeverageDaily.
In 2017, 27.2.% of all beverages launches in the UK and US featured functional benefits, an increase of 12.6% from the year prior, according to Innova Market Insights.
Among the top five functional claims were energy/alertness (20%), digestive/gut health (19%), and antioxidants (12.7%).
The functional beverage category has also grown due to consumers becoming more mindful of their food and beverage choices, Innova said. The market research firm called out “mindful choices” as its top consumer trend for 2018 and found that seven out of 10 UK and US consumers seek to “understand” the ingredient list on products.
Wellness shot concept takes off
Beverage brands like Vive, Nootra, and Brain Juice who have launched ‘wellness shot’ ranges are seeing increased attention due to their inherent convenience and easily identifiable functional benefits on its product labels, according to Imbibe.
Project Juice, for example, makes a line of two-ounce wellness shots promoting consumer sought-after functional claims.
The brand’s line of shot-sized doses include ‘immune boost’, ‘liver flush’ that claims to remove toxins from the kidneys, ‘tummy tonic’ which says it alleviates digestive stress with ingredients such as aloe, ginger, and apple cider vinegar, and an ‘energy elixir’ that includes “natural” energy sources such as matcha and vitamin b12.
Fat is back
The increasingly popular ketogenesis diet, which incorporates more fat into the diet, has some consumers seeking beverages with fat content, according to Imbibe.
CoreFX, an ingredients company specializing in specialty lipid ingredients, has witnessed this resurgence of fat in food and beverages first hand.
“For the past number of years, consumers have taken a more nuanced view of fat, and now understand the difference between good and bad fats," CEO Denis Neville told BeverageDaily.
"As a result of this, consumers are embracing the health values of functional fats in beverages for their many perceived health and wellness benefits."
A popular fat-fortified beverage has been the rise of butter coffee with brands like Bulletproof popularizing the concept. Outside of its association to the keto diet is its natural taste profile, according to Neville.
"The significant upside to this is that butter products taste great versus other vegetable oils, including tropical oils. They can be used in many functional applications and provide nutritional benefits delivering a holistic solution which is very important to today’s consumer," he noted.
CoreFX is also developing several plant-based fats and oils that are transforming the market including avocado, almond, flaxseed, borage, algae, evening primrose, and hemp, many of which are rich in valuable fatty acids and antioxidants, Neville added.
Beverages introducing alternative protein sources such as collagen have attracted consumer attention recently due to their beauty-from-within claims such as promoting hair, skin, and nail health, according to Imbibe.
Google Trends data show searches for collagen hit a 5-year high in March 2018 driven by functional food and beverage brands introducing the animal-sourced protein into their products.
Bone broth brand Bonafide touts naturally occurring collagen in its line of drinkable broths positioned as beverages.
Collagen has also been firmly positioned as a beauty enhancer by UK brand Beauty & Go that claims to promote skin-renewing properties through its four products that contain bioactive collagen, antioxidants, and vitamins.
The concept of ‘beauty drinks’ has taken off as a way to promote daily self-care, McHugh added, who foresees beverage claims like enhanced beauty and detoxifying effects becoming more common place within the category.