Drink it up: Döhler touts functional brews, superfood status and craft claims as key drivers in beverage NPD
12 Mar 2019 --- Nutrition is becoming a central pillar to a healthy lifestyle for a growing number of consumers, after all, “you are what you eat.” Although pleasure and enjoyment play an essential role in eating and drinking, consumers are the lookout for products that not only taste good but also offer additional healthy value. According to Döhler, the trend for natural products is continuing to grow too. This extends across all food and in particular, beverage categories. As a result, functional beverages which support health, are on the rise.
“A healthy lifestyle is closely linked to a balanced and healthy diet and is indispensable for staying fit and agile. As part of this health awareness, consumers are looking for food and drinks with optimal nutritional profiles, which are geared to their individual needs and can be part of a healthy and active lifestyle,” Christoph Witte, Head of Product Management B2C at Döhler tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
Functional beverages enriched with plant-based proteins or amino acids have established themselves as top sellers in recent years, supporting the trend towards a health-conscious, natural and plant-based diet. “For a long time, they were mostly available in gyms or web shops, but today you can find them in almost any supermarket,” Witte notes.
Döhler offers a variety of ingredients for functional beverages, such as vitamin and mineral blends, trendy plant-based proteins and exotic botanical extracts. All of them provide improved nutritional value and impress with an excellent taste profile, says Witte. “With such a wide variety of product solutions on offer, we can support positionings as diverse as digestive health, bone and joint health, immune system, mental health and energy levels.”
As well as healthy, natural ingredients, curiosity for “something new” is also stirring up the global food and beverage market. Consumers are increasingly looking for new flavors, textures, products with extraordinary colors, and, ultimately, the emotional enjoyment that comes from multi-sensory experiences, notes Witte.
For example, smoothies have been trending for years and it is no longer just a case of pureed fruit. “The new generation of smoothies offers a lot more than just pure nutrients – their sensory properties are truly impressive,” he claims. Tropical fruits like goldenberry and guava add a fresh and fruity taste, “super-veggies” such as avocado and courgette impress with valuable nutrients and interesting taste nuances, while chia and flax seeds create an extra-crunchy mouthfeel and turmeric provides a bright yet highly natural color. “Superfood smoothies are a real highlight in the beverage aisle and a unique indulgence for all the senses,” adds Witte.
Guayusa is a trendy new ingredient for innovative RTD tea beverages, according to Witte. Also known as “super leaf” tea, guayusa is native to the Amazon rainforest in South America, where indigenous people have consumed it for thousands of years. Due to the natural caffeine content, an infusion with guayusa leaves is said to have a stimulating effect, says Witte. “It’s naturally invigorating properties and refreshing taste make guayusa an ideal base for exciting tea drinks. We also offer a range of refreshing RTD tea drinks based on guayusa tea extract, either pure or in combination with exotic fruit flavors, as well as clean label options,” he notes.
Cold brew coffee is another popular lifestyle drink right now. Pure or in combination with fruity, caramel or chocolate flavors, the cold brew beverage trend is enchanting coffee lovers around the globe. “Cold brew coffee is perfectly attuned to the demand for high-quality, authentic drinks. Prepared gently without any heat, it is less bitter and less acidic than its hot variant, but with a milder, more rounded and even more aromatic taste that makes it ideal for innovative beverage and food concepts,” Witte explains.
Plant-based nutrition is also on the rise. Whether on health grounds or due to particular ethical beliefs, more and more consumers are cutting out or down on animal products and choosing to follow either a purely plant-based diet or simply consuming less meat. In response to these trends, Döhler has created several product concepts that reflect current lifestyles and “the spirit of the times,” Witte says.
In general, the trend for natural and plant-based foods is growing globally and it extends across all beverage categories. “But naturalness no longer simply means that the end product contains natural ingredients,” he continues. “When choosing to buy a product, consumers want to make an active contribution to environmental protection or fairtrade, with an increased focus on the origin and production conditions of the product or ingredients itself. More and more consumers are choosing organic products that fit their healthy and sustainable lifestyles.”
Additionally, craft beverages are continuing to shape the market and spur further innovation in NPD. According to Witte, “crafted” stands for authenticity, trust, handmade products, reliability and clean labeling. “These characteristics are highly relevant for today’s modern consumers,” he claims. “It, therefore, comes as no surprise that the crafted trend, which originated in the beer industry, is rapidly conquering other beverage categories such as carbonated soft drinks, tea drinks and even water,” he adds.
Döhler has developed a range of refreshment concepts such as Fruit Infused Water, Craft Sodas or Botanical Water, all of which focus on the authentic taste of natural ingredients, such as high-quality not from concentrate (NFC) juices or fruit, herbal and spice infusions, Witte notes.
The issue of sugar reduction continues to dominate the food and beverage industry. Not only are governments increasing the pressure with numerous regional regulations and voluntary commitments – consumers themselves are also paying more attention to a healthy diet. “More and more categories now offer consumers reduced sugar alternatives. The trend offers huge potential for growth in the energy drinks segment, which has a somewhat negative reputation due to the drinks’ high sugar content. Less sugar with the same taste and the full energy boost is what consumers in this segment are looking for today,” Witte explains.
In addition to numerous sweetening solutions that allow sugar reduction of up to 100 percent, Döhler also offers the MultiSense Sweet Flavour range, which can be used to reduce up to 3 Brix sugar without using high-intensity sweeteners. MultiSense Masking and Mouthfeel can further improve the aftertaste and mouthfeel of these reduced sugar products. “The flavors create a well-balanced taste profile in products such as reduced sugar carbonated soft drinks (CSDs), still drinks and non-alcoholic beers,” Witte concludes.
The beverage sector is certainly ripe for innovation and NPD. Current developments across the beverage category have been centered around health and wellbeing, as sugar reformulation and the broader idea of “lighter enjoyment” also continues to dominate. Globally, producers are tapping into the growing consumer demand for enjoyable soft drinks that have been given a clean and clear label makeover, as innovators continue to scrap sugar and reformulate with more natural alternatives. The industry can expect to see more of this throughout 2019.
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