Beverage Ingredient Roundtable:
Proving all the good ideas are not yet taken,
ingredient companies offer insight into new trends
By SARAH THEODORE
Advances in wellness
ingredients and delivering those benefits to
consumers — both in terms of better functional delivery and in terms
of physically transporting products — top the list of issues beverage
product developers are working on this year, according to participants in Beverage Industry’s
ingredient supplier roundtable. We asked several companies to tell us what
they see on the horizon as the next new beverage trends, the issues their
clients are dealing with these days and the types of products they think
have potential — the ones many beverage companies haven’t even
considered yet. Offering their insights are Phil Parisi, vice president and
technical director at David Michael & Co., Philadelphia; S.L.
“Sam” Wright, IV, chief executive officer and president of The
Wright Group, Crowley, La.; Herb Woolf, senior
nutritionist at BASF Corp., Easton, Pa.; and
Ram Chaudhari, senior executive vice president and chief scientific officer
at Fortitech, Schenectady, N.Y.
What do you think are the biggest factors shaping
beverage product development these days?
Phil Parisi: There are many key factors shaping beverage development. Most importantly, creating products that are
innovative, whether the innovation is all about new ingredients and flavor,
or to serve consumers' functional needs.
New packaging innovations, which are targeting
on-the-go and convenience trends, are creating new processing challenges
While meeting all of these needs, new products need
to remain affordable for consumers. And most importantly, they need to
Sam Wright: The major
focus, by far, is on healthfulness. One of the
biggest factors shaping product development today is the decline of the
traditional sugary carbonated soft drink in favor of healthier options such
as fruit-based beverages, energy drinks and fortified waters. The teen
obesity issue has helped create this climate, with some school districts
banning older, traditional drinks such as Coke and Pepsi from school
vending machines. Former President Bill Clinton is very active in this
Energy drinks and teas are particularly hot, and as
these segments grow, it becomes increasingly important to differentiate
brands. Value-added ingredient and nutrient systems are a major mechanism
by which to accomplish this.
Another factor is the growth of functional,
condition-specific, age-specific and gender-specific beverages for heart
health, immune system enhancement, joint health, eye health, digestive
health, mental acuity and other concerns. Beverages now account for more
than 50 percent of the functional food category on a worldwide basis and
have proven to be a major vehicle by which consumers prefer to get their
nutrients. They are second only to tablets and capsules.
Ram Chaudhari: [There
are] high levels of product innovation and promotional activities related
to health and wellness of the nutritional ingredients – delivered in
different flavors with convenience. Of course, taste is a huge factor and
directly impacts sales.
Herb Woolf: Formulators and ingredient providers must not overlook the
overarching expectation of the consumer for flavor and thirst satisfaction
in their quest to develop more functional beverages. Beyond that,
functional beverages will only succeed if novelty meets a perceived or, in
fact real, deliverable. To be a functional beverage, the product needs to
provide meaningful health benefits above and beyond basic nutrition.
Sam Wright: The hot
ingredients are herbals, ribose, taurine, arginine and other amino acids,
carnitine, solubilized coenzyme Q-10, glucosamine and carotenoids. Vitamins
and minerals remain strong and the use of more exotic juices and extracts
including noni, cupuacu, guarana, acai and pomegranate continue to dominate
product development in 2006.
Phil Parisi: There are many hot ingredients this year, and a good deal of
them tie into functional food trends. While pomegranate and acai flavors
are gaining in popularity, consumers are more familiar with their
antioxidant and healthy powers, and that seems to be what's really driving
Energy drinks continue to soar in popularity, and
ingredients like caffeine, or more natural sources like taurine and guarana
don't seem to be going away. There is a lot of controversy about these
ingredients at the moment, and while we may see some of the usage levels
decreasing, they will continue to gain in popularity.
Weight loss ingredients like Hoodia, which actually
"tells" the brain that it is not hungry, and L-Carnitine, which
helps to metabolize fat in your system, are growing rapidly in popularity.
Weight-conscious consumers will often look for meal replacement beverages,
and the addition of weight control ingredients just makes sense.
Of course, omega-3s are a hot button. With a list of
benefits that include improved cardiovascular health and lower cholesterol,
consumers are getting curious as they become more educated.
And finally, Stevia, which is extracted from the
flavido, or peel, of citrus fruits, offers product developers a natural
dietary supplement that is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sucrose. Of
course, in the United States, Stevia can only be sold as a dietary
supplement, not a sugar substitute.
Ram Chaudhari: Omega-3, phytosterols, dietary fibers, pre- and probiotics,
green tea, antioxidants and chelated minerals.
Herb Woolf: Ingredients that are coming into vogue are those that yield
some level of benefit or effect. Classically, caffeine is enormously
successful because it delivers an overall "taste" and also
delivers an instant "feel good" effect. Several ingredients today
have well-recognized benefits and have a high consumer awareness. These all
can be “hot” if they can be formulated into beverages and not
sacrifice taste satisfaction. Ingredients such as omega-3's, lycopene,
antioxidants, fiber, calcium, pre- and probiotics, stanols and sterols are
nutrients that fall into this category. The underlying consumer expectation
for functional beverages will be met if these products are consumed
regularly and part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
Ram Chaudhari: One is smoothie-type beverages containing hydrolyzed
protein/peptides. Also, beverages with phytosterol phytonutrients, pre- and
probiotic beverages, omega-3 beverages, green
teas and beverages containing CoQ10, lycopene, lutein and lypoic acid.
Baby boomers are going to drive the market for these
ingredients to improve and sustain wellness and performance related issues.
Phil Parisi: The first thing that comes to mind are the "new"
teas — red and white. Manufacturers seem to be doing a good job of
educating consumers on the health and flavor benefits of these teas and
that's always important when changing up a category.
Fusion beverages are another category that we're
seeing some growth in. Whether it's the combination of fruit and
vegetables, or pairing sweet flavors with flavors that are traditionally
used in savory applications, this has truly developed into a hybrid
category. In fact, at our 2005 Innovation Roadshow, our beverage and culinary department joined together to create
Culinary Infusion Beverages. In Basil Tamarind Pear, Rosemary Acai
Raspberry, Ginger Lulo Lime and Clove Guanabana Pineapple, these waters
were for more than just drinking, they were also for cooking. Recipes
utilizing each flavor were created.
We may also see more fusions in the distilled spirits
market as floral, tea and coffee flavors pop up more in this category.
And, just as meal kits are becoming staples, drink
kits may also appeal to the busy consumer looking for a quick-to-assemble,
high-end product. Kits that contain all of the pre-measured ingredients for
say, a Cosmopolitan, make entertaining easy, while still allowing the user
to be the mixologist.
Sam Wright: The areas of prebiotics and probiotics have created major
new categories in Europe and Asia and have the potential to do so in North
America as well. There is ample opportunity for creating intellectual
property and strong branding around probiotic organisms and prebiotic
ingredients. It is an extremely promising area. Value-added product forms
are available which enable live organisms to remain viable through
processing and storage. This is a very important consideration in working
with these “living” ingredients.
Phil Parisi: Water-plus.
Water is a category that continues to grow, and the next step of adding
more functional ingredients like vitamins and minerals, or weight-loss
ingredients such as Hoodia, seems like a natural progression. Flavored
waters that taste great and are low in calories, also have a great deal of
Floral beverage flavors are another untapped area that
are screaming with potential. What about Floral lemonades!
Sam Wright: In
addition to probiotics and prebiotics, marine omega-3 fatty acids are
another promising area for innovation. Traditionally, these products have
been underutilized in beverages because of taste and odor problems inherent
with the available raw materials. Advances in refining technology and
microencapsulation techniques have yielded highly value-added forms of
omega-3s that work well in beverage systems, particularly those that are
protein or dairy-based.
Another area for possible beverage innovation is in
the field of nutrition and even OTC drug delivery for older consumers, many
of whom have trouble swallowing more traditional product forms such as
tablets and capsules. Effervescent products that can be added to
water as needed are particularly interesting as are dose-dispensing bottle
caps that release contents as they are opened. These delivery systems also
add a “fun” element that some segments might value.
Ram Chaudhari: Beverages
containing natural fruits/berry concentrates (or extracts) with other
functional food ingredients like polysaccharides. For example, adding
functional food nutrients under the cap – prior to consumption
– would be a good addition to help avoid interactions and quality
Herb Woolf: Antioxidant
beverages should become an even more popular segment of the functional
beverage sector for several reasons. There is already a good history of
success for antioxidant beverages because antioxidants are vital components
of fruits and vegetables. Many phytonutrients impart attractive colors and
also have antioxidant properties. Scientific data continues to show that
long-term intake of antioxidants provides health benefits against a wide
variety of diseases.
Ram Chaudhari: New innovations cost money, therefore pricing is always a
concern. However, with good scientific studies and delivery of a health
benefit would justify the cost. Depending upon the type of product, i.e.
powdered beverages vs. ready-to-drink, and single-serving pouches vs. bulk
would have pricing issues. Technological advances have generated new
ingredients, but cost and application of new ingredients must be addressed
to overcome long-term safety issues.
Sam Wright: The rise
in energy and commodity prices in recent months has had a negative effect
on the economics of the beverage industry. Packaging components, processing
costs, ingredient costs and transportation expenses are all affected. The
rising power of retailers and the price sensitivity of consumers as a
result of the “Wal-Mart effect” make it difficult or impossible
in some cases to pass these cost increases through to the end consumer
without risking market position.
It’s a real dilemma for those companies caught
in the middle, and we do not see any improvement coming in the short run.
It is more important than ever to have some value-added positioning for a
beverage that will enable manufacturers to capture higher margins. The
nutrient systems are often the primary way to distinguish one product from
another. Interesting package design has also been an important
differentiator in some cases.
Phil Parisi: Ship less, save more. Fuel costs aren't going away, and
while the category is trending more toward RTD beverages, there may be
opportunity to save on transportation fees by offering more concentrates or
powdered mixes. Aside from just juice concentrates, manufacturers could
offer their consumers concentrates with multiple applications. What about a
pomegranate concentrate that can be added to water to make a juice
beverage, or to gin to make a martini. Or a lemon concentrate that can be
made into lemonade just as easily as it can be added to tea or even your
favorite grill recipe.
Herb Woolf: Fortification has not yet garnered the expected level
of financial return for many beverage companies. Consumers will accept this
premium and appreciate these benefits when they understand these nutrient
benefits. Clear messaging is key to initial success. Measurable health benefits will ultimately drive this category. BI
What are the hot ingredients of 2006?
Every year there are products that have the potential
to create a new beverage category or send a category in a new
direction. What do think are the products that are doing that this year?
What do you see as product categories or concepts
that have untapped potential, or that beverage companies should consider
Are there any issues such as pricing, transportation
costs or supply issues that you see affecting the beverage ingredient