Report reveals top trends in functional beverages

By Olivia Brown

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / We Are
Getty Images / We Are

Related tags Beverages Drink functional beverage

Consumers are demanding additional functional ingredients in beverages as they look for products to support their mental and physical energy while attaining hydration goals.

A newly published consumer trends report by Prinova, the global supplier of ingredients and premix manufacturing solutions, observed that 89% of consumers opt for functional food and drink over supplements to support their health (FMCG Gurus Nutritional Supplements 2022).

And with the non-alcoholic drinks market at a global revenue of nearly 1.5 trillion USD​ in 2023, and expected to grow by 4.6% CAGR to 2027, the report observed that consumers are seeking a wider range of options as alternatives.

“Given the scale of this market need, and the increasingly wide range of on-trend functional ingredients available, it’s clear that there are still huge opportunities for innovation in the functional beverage space,” James Street, global marketing director at Prinova asserted.

Trending ingredients and health goals

The report observed the top ingredients sought by customers within healthy drinks include vitamins (65%), minerals (48%), and plant protein (36%). Further demanded ingredients included fruit, whey protein, glucose, amino acids, and ginseng.

In terms of desired health benefit consumers sought when purchasing healthier beverages, 58% of consumers said they were seeking energy benefits.

“Interestingly, while caffeine is widely recognised for its energy benefits, it did not score too highly with our respondents as a desired healthy ingredient,” the report pointed out. “This opens up opportunities for ingredients that support steady energy without the caffeine crash, such as B vitamins, slow-release carbohydrates like enduracarb, and natural caffeine alternatives, including guarana, yerba mate, and matcha.”

Exemplifying this demand for natural and sustainable energy, California's Guakyaki Yerba Mate recently expanded its drinks portfolio to include Berry Lemonade​, which contains 150mg of natural caffeine from herbal tea.

Meeting the consumer demand for cognitive and mental health support within beverages, Prinova spotlighted its AlphaTea ingredient which provides L-theanine naturally sourced from green tea extract. The ingredient has been associated with sleep and relaxation benefits, as well as increased concentration and reaction times.

According to the report, a notable 56% of respondents sought hydration benefits from their beverages, and this was a particularly prevalent trend among women. The report highlighted the “water plus” trend which seemed to be driving the demand, with consumers seeking elevation to water such as added electrolytes using natural ingredients, or functional ingredients such as protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals.

Nutritional supplement brand Gatorade recently released its new unflavoured water​ with added electrolytes, underlining the market opportunities for simplistic hydration.

Whilst Prinova reported only 15% of consumers selected sports nutrition as a key demand in beverages, 39% sought post-exercise recovery and 33% wanted their beverages to aid strength and muscle growth. 

Tapping into this trend, Exalt recently launched two performance juice shots​, including Ginger Ninja and TUr-Mericle which are targeted at improving performance and recovery by reducing inflammation.

“Sports performance now also includes gaming, which is increasingly seen in the context of physical and mental endurance. Cognitive abilities are especially important, with focus, enhanced reaction times and memory all crucial,” the report added.

Cost of living and brand trust

The report noted the continued strain of the cost-of-living crisis on consumer spending, with over half of all consumers stating affordability as their main concern. This was found to be particularly prevalent younger consumers and those in the UK and France.

Furthermore, 39% of consumers reported naturality to be a key purchase driver for healthy beverages, whilst 28% sought products from a trusted brand.  

“The power of the trusted brand continues to win over consumers, bolstering credibility and perceptions of efficacy, and proved to be of particular importance for men and for consumers in the UK and Italy,” the report stated.

“Scientifically backed ingredients – a key pillar for building trust in a brand – emerged as a significant factor for Spanish consumers and the 35-44 age group. Beverage taste and texture were also strong purchase drivers, particularly for women."

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