By Nick Roskelly
Flavors that influence purchase decisions
Consumers want all they can get from new
beverages. A product must taste good, but if it can also increase blood
circulation, all the better. If a processor is unable to use an actual
healthy ingredient in an application, sometimes a flavor will add a
nutritional perception, which can make all the difference in a purchase
A number of flavors have healthier connotations than
others. In fact, some flavors are perceived with such high nutritional
value that they overcome the less healthy applications they occasionally
support. Case in point: deep-fried blueberry snack pie. There are no
reports of high antioxidant claims on deep-fried blueberry pies yet, but
the possibility exists because consumers generally consider blueberries a
high nutrition superfruit. A general rule of thumb: they’ll buy a
fatty pie if the antioxidant content is high.
For processors, healthier reformulation can pose
obstacles. Reformulating within the parameters of their systems and
processes can potentially discourage manufacturers from making a commitment
to healthier alternatives. They’re always asking the question: How
can I introduce a healthier characteristic into formulations with minimal
disruption to my line? Sometimes the answer is simple.
Flavors with a healthy halo allow processors to
develop healthier new products with little difficulty. Essentially,
processors create a line extension with a healthy halo flavor and go to
market with a nutritional message. In other cases, a processor may choose
to devote more resources to a new formulation and provide a more
efficacious product with real nutritional benefits. In either instance,
consumer perception of a new product as nutritious has everything to do
with their purchase decisions. The trend is the primary driver behind the
influx of new beverages created with flavors that have an attached health
Flavors of health
According to the Center for Culinary Development
(CCD), “superfruits,” such as acaí, gaurana and goji
berries, are becoming more popular with American consumers keen to eat
healthful foods while trying new tastes, and food processors are using the
“super” ingredients and flavors in everything from beverages to
With their well-seasoned palates, today’s
sophisticated consumers expect more than standard chocolate, strawberry and
vanilla. On top of that, health is a major concern as more consumers seek
functional foods offering antioxidants, vitamins and other nutritional
benefits that can increase longevity and quality of life. In response,
manufacturers have broadened their sights to source ingredients that add
exciting new flavors and targeted functionality to their product offerings.
Increasingly popular with mainstream consumers, and
touted for healthy attributes, superfruits are proving to be today’s
panacea for health, beauty, energy and longevity.
One superfruit currently in the spotlight is
acaí. For thousands of years a staple for tribes in the
Amazon’s lush rain forests, acaí was introduced to modern
society in the 1990s. A recognized energy booster with natural antioxidant
and cholesterol-controlling properties, acaí is fast becoming a
One product making a splash with acaí flavors
is Zola Acaí, which is certified organic and comes in Original,
Acaí + Pineapple and Acaí + Blueberry varieties.
Acaí is one of the most exotic and trendy
flavors with a nutritional vein. Other healthy halo or superfruit flavors
include blueberry, pomegranate, green tea extracts and fresh flavors like
grapefruit, mint and cucumber.
Another flavor growing in popularity is goji berry.
The berries have been celebrated in traditional Chinese medicine for
thousands of years to enhance longevity, wellbeing and to boost the immune
system. Goji berries have a flavor that is a cross between cranberries and
cherries, and can be steeped to create a tasty and healthy tea.
The goji berry is a nutritional powerhouse that
contains 18 amino acids including all eight of the essential amino acids. This
superfruit is also chock full of antioxidants, and contains 21 minerals
including zinc, iron, copper, calcium, germanium, selenium and phosphorus,
as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C and E. Goji berries also contain
calcium beta-sisterol (an anti-inflammatory agent), linoleic acid (a
healthy fatty acid), sesquiterpenoids, tetraterpenoids (zeaxanthin,
physalin), betaine and polysaccharides which are known to fortify the
immune system. Several recent studies show that goji berries provide the
body with antioxidant protection and have anti-aging, cancer-fighting and
immune system-boosting properties (International Journal of Molecular
Flavors in new products
A number of new products across categories have hooked
into health halo flavor trends.
Luctor International, Orlando, Fla., maker of Van Gogh
Vodka, launched Acaí-Blueberry flavored vodka in late April. The
exotic new flavor has an overtone of blueberry with an acaí finish.
“Acaí is widely popular in Brazil, where
major cities like Belize and Belem have thousands of acaí juice
bars,” Dave van de Velde, Luctor’s founder and president said
in a statement. The 70-proof vodka retails for about $25 per 750-liter
Also in the spirits category, Chopin Vodka took note
of health and flavor trends, and then infused its newest offerings with
tea, crystallized ginger, fresh berries and cool cucumber and mint.
Kagome launched two flavors to its blended (half
fruit, half vegetable) line: Yellow Mango Orchard and Ruby Pomegranate Harmony. Each 8-ounce glass offers a full
serving of vegetables and fruits, and is packed with antioxidants such as
beta-carotene, lycopene and anthocyanin.
Clearly Canadian Beverage Corp., Vancouver, Canada,
launched non-carbonated Natural Enhanced Waters: Daily Energy, Daily
Vitamin and Daily Water certified organic essence waters. These new Natural
Enhanced Waters are low or zero-calorie, flavorful, health conscious
offerings with no preservatives or artificial sweeteners. Natural Enhanced
Waters come in six varieties including, pink grapefruit and blueberry.
Kraft Foods entered the vitamin-enhanced water
category with Fruit2O nutrient enhanced water beverages. The beverages are
formulated with vitamins, and contain zero calories and zero grams of
carbohydrates per serving. Varieties include Energy, Hydration, Immunity
and Relax, each of which feature a unique and healthy-oriented flavor.
Fruit2O Immunity, for example, is made with a
combination of pomegranate and berries flavors and Fruit2O Relax is infused
with a blend of chamomile and hibiscus.
Nick Roskelly is managing editor of Stagnito’s New Products Magazine, Beverage Industry’s sister publication.