June 17, 2024
Functional Beverages

Functional Beverages: Delivering Health Benefits Beyond Basic Nutrition

The Emergence of Functional Beverages

As lifestyles have become busier, people are looking for convenient ways to consume nutrients and boost their overall health. This helped drive the rise of functional drink – drinks that provide benefits beyond basic hydration by containing targeted nutrients or ingredients. Functional drink first emerged in the 1990s as manufacturers began fortifying beverages with ingredients like vitamins, minerals, herbs, fibers and more. Early functional drink included vitamin-enriched waters and enhanced fruit juices. However, it was the introduction of energy drinks in the late 90s and early 2000s that truly helped mainstream the concept of functional drink.

Expanded Ingredient Options

As consumers’ interest in wellness expanded, so too did the ingredients featured in functional drink. Today’s drinks contain an immense variety of nutrients and plant compounds aimed at specific health goals. Functional Beverages Some popular functional drink categories and their key ingredients include:

– Protein drinks – containing whey, soy, pea or other high-quality protein sources to support muscle growth and recovery.

– Prebiotic/probiotic beverages – with prebiotic fibers like inulin to feed beneficial gut bacteria plus probiotic cultures to promote digestive and immune health.

– Greens/vegetable drinks – packing in nutrients from kale, spinach, broccoli and other veggie superfoods plus antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

– Energy/focus drinks – using caffeine of course but also herbs like ginkgo biloba and nutrients for mental clarity and stamina.

– Immune support drinks – with elderberry, echinacea and vitamin C for natural immune boosting and cold/flu prevention.

– Weight management beverages – containing ingredients that enhance fullness like fiber, protein or green tea extract to aid calorie control.

Customizing Benefits

With so many nutrients and plant compounds available, brands can precisely customize functional drink to target specific wellness goals. Drinks have been formulated for everything from brain health and relaxation to beauty, collagen support and even hangover prevention. And developments in nutrigenomics are enabling even more personalized functional drink. Through analysis of an individual’s genetics, blood biomarkers or microbiome, customized drinks catered to their unique biology and lifestyle factors will soon be on the market. This will take functional drink to an entirely new level of tailored benefits.

Beverage Giants Invest Big

It’s clear why the beverage industry has taken notice of functional drinks. Global sales of the category topped $68 billion in 2018 according to Zenith Global and are expected to continue growing strongly with a CAGR over 5% through 2023. Major players like PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle and Danone have all invested heavily in scaling up functional beverage initiatives. They see the segment as a way to diversify beyond sodas and juices into broader wellness products. For example, Coca-Cola acquired functional drink brands like Minute Maid Enhanced and Zico coconut water. PepsiCo launched organic superfood lines like Auric and brands with functional ingredients like Propel. And Nestle bought brands like VOSS flavored water while developing drinks containing MCT oil, prebiotics and more. Their expansive distribution muscle will bring functional options to an even wider consumer base.

A Bright Future Ahead

With a favorable pricing premium and loyal customer appeal, functional beverages clearly satisfy today’s health-driven marketplace. And as options proliferate to meet individual wellness missions and lifestyles, it’s a segment that shows no signs of slowing. Look for continued innovations from startups and investment from Big Beverage players alike. Consumers will also see more usage occasions emerge for functional drinks beyond mere refreshment – whether as natural wellness shots, meal replacement shakes, relaxation elixirs and beyond. Overall, the future remains bright for a category bringing new dimensions of nutrition and benefits beyond what basic hydration alone can provide. With customized formulations set to get even more personalized, functional drink are sure to stay in high demand for years to come among those pursuing active and healthy living.

1.Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2.We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it