By JOANNA COSGROVE
Another echelon of growth is within reach... provided that claims are backed by solid science
Fortified beverages have been around for some time, but believe it or not, industry experts say further growth is attainable if ingredient suppliers, beverage manufacturers and consumers could all get on the same wavelength. As Steve Nickolas, president of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Beverage Science Labs, puts it, “no one really knows what they want.”
Can that really be true? In this time of harried consumption, when manufacturers have seemingly penetrated each beverage segment with fortified options to help healthy-minded consumers guzzle good-for-you nutrients on the go, how can no one know what they want?
Nickolas explains that while the applications are innovative, ingredient efficacy and consumer understanding still haven’t gelled. “As an industry we are not assuming a leadership role in providing the consumer with a selection of fortified beverages that have an impact on consumers’ health,” he says. “Consumers, on the other hand, have no clear concept as to what they want their beverages to do; the term functional has virtually no meaning for them.
“For years, all a beverage had to be was thirst quenching and good tasting, not necessarily healthy,” he says. “I see many more years of trial and error until the category matures.”
Paul Dijkstra, executive vice president at InterHealth Nutraceuticals Inc., Benicia, Calif., believes the fortified beverage segment is poised for growth; however he argues that true growth potential can only be realized if beverage manufacturers commit to bridging the chasm between understanding the benefits of functional ingredients and sourcing high-quality ingredients that will deliver the benefits consumers crave.
“We are finding that many beverage manufacturers are knowledgeable about mainstream ingredients like caffeine, but have not sought out proprietary functional ingredients that have sound science backing them up and provide regulatory insurance,” he says, encouraging beverage manufacturers to place more stock in their ingredient suppliers who have already done their due diligence and can provide turnkey, efficacious solutions to consumer-relevant problems.
But Dijkstra warns against fortifying beverages simply for the sake of added label buzz. “New beverage products will need to differentiate themselves beyond just adding a new flavor or offering zero-calorie options,” he says. “If consumers are looking to shed pounds, they not only want zero calories but something to help them curb their appetite, burn fat and help reduce their body weight. New beverages that can address this and help consumers manage their weight-loss goals will continue to gain acceptance by mainstream consumers.”
The American obesity epidemic is one of the most predominant trends impacting the beverage segment. Logically speaking, consumers who are lowering their food intake are almost predisposed to healthy-drink applications because of their ability to curb hunger without sabotaging a sound diet.
In addition to desiring portable and convenient beverage propositions that dovetail with consumers’ consumption habits, Dijkstra says healthy-minded consumers want beverages that deliver benefits with a good taste that don’t overtly scream “diet.”
Of all the fortified beverage categories, water continues to lead the way in terms of growth. “All other fortified beverages seem to have a short burst in the market and then flatten out quickly (teas, dairy-based beverages and fruit-based drinks),” Nickolas says. “Consumers seem to gravitate toward water, or beverages that are close to what they perceive to be water (Propel or Vitamin Water) because they already look at water as a healthy alternative, and will try products that are labeled ‘A Better Water.’”
“InterHealth consumer research found dieters use beverages — particularly water and no/low-calorie beverages — to curb their hunger,” Dijkstra comments. “We also found there is a long-term potential burnout for plain water, hence the growing popularity for flavor-enhanced still and carbonated alternatives — again, fortified with beneficial functional ingredients.”
One prototype product called Weight Loss Water, from Orafti North America, Malvern, Pa., contains water, sodium citrate, citric acid, natural flavor, sucralose and acesulfame potassium, and also is fortified with Raftiline Inulin to provide the satiety of fiber, caffeine to boost metabolism and calcium lactate to promote weight loss. The resulting product is sugar free and contains only 10 calories.
Another fortified water, already at market, is Jana Skinny Water from Creative Enterprises International Inc., New York. The no-calorie, flash pasteurized, lemon-flavored water is enhanced with a combination of ingredients — most notably InterHealth’s patented Super CitriMax Hydroxycitric Acid — to “help people lose and maintain their weight.”
New ingredient roundup
Beyond the realm of fortified water, many new ingredients are poised for use in beverages, especially in the organic and energy beverage segments. “This trend is reflective of the consumer desire to maintain and improve energy, reinvigorate and replenish body fluids, manage weight gain and enhance the nutritional value of popular beverages,” comments Ram Chaudhari, senior executive vice president, chief scientific officer at Fortitech, Schenectady, N.Y. “The high-demand ingredients being used are taurine, caffeine, antioxidants and lycopene, which fulfill the desire of consumers for added energy and healthier options.
“Soy, in particular, is still growing in popularity,” he continues. “In addition, phytonutrients and sterols are becoming popular additions to many emerging products, maintaining taste, texture and stability in finished products.”
Chaudhari says the top ingredients poised for growth include fibers, proteins, soy isoflavones, CoQ10, plant extracts and probiotics. “The challenge for manufacturers is incorporating these ingredients and other nutrients into beverages, while avoiding the bad taste, sedimentation and other consequences that often result from ingredient interaction.”
To meet demand, he says, many beverage-makers are turning to their ingredient suppliers’ technical experts as well as outside sources for ideas and ingredient combinations. “Even with fast-track product development, companies are using ingredients that have a scientific foundation to back them up,” Chaudhari says.
On the probiotic front, Tim Brunton, North American dairy industry manager for Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, says there are two approaches that can be used elevate the awareness and understanding of probiotics. “The first is to provide non-specific probiotics in a product to address those consumers who want to consume probiotics but are not overly savvy with respect to specific strains,” he says. “The second approach will be to label clinically supported, trademarked products that the consumer can then recognize and continue to source.”
On the soy front, Minneapolis-based Acatris’ SoyLife soy germ isoflavone ingredient recently was teamed with the company’s newest ingredient, LinumLife flaxseed lignan extract to formulate a powdered phytonutrient beverage mix called Bluebonnet Nutrition’s Super Earth Phytonutrient Soy Protein Powder. The mix boasts 15 grams of soy protein and is intended to supplement the health of both men and women.
Although ADM, Decatur, Ill., continues to work on dairy and soy protein blends, the company is investing increased efforts in the fortification of fruit and vegetable juice blends with vitamins and minerals. “These projects involve our custom blends, including our highly bio-available calcium citrate and natural-sourced vitamin E,” says Kathy Schanefelt, the company’s beverage market manager. “There has been high focus on Fibersol-2 digestive resistant maltodextrin inclusions in fortified waters and juice beverages as well as meal replacements and yogurt drinks. The fiber acts as a prebiotic and does not affect taste or interfere with mineral or calcium absorption and provides additional functionality.”
Another ingredient of interest, especially in the baby boomer and women’s segments, is calcium. Harrison, N.Y.-based Barrington Nutritionals’ water soluble InstaCal provides 11.5 percent calcium, while its GadoMultiMin allows a formulator to provide calcium, magnesium and zinc in a clear solution, according to the company’s Nelson Fretwell, national sales manager, food ingredients division.
A growing trend in beverage fortification is the drive to find functional alternatives to caloric sweeteners.
PureLo, from BioVittoria, Southbury, Conn., (distributed by Barrington Nutritionals), is a pure water extract of the sweet Siraitia grosvenorii fruit grown in remote mountain areas of Southern China. The sweet component, a “triterpene glycoside” called Mogroside, is non-caloric, highly water soluble, clean tasting and 200 to 300 times as sweet as sucrose.
According to BioVittoria, published research shows the material suppresses the replication of Epstein-Barr virus and impairs the growth of cavity-causing oral bacteria. Although the company is undertaking further research to validate these and other claims, the company believes the initial place of importance in the western markets will be as a natural, non-caloric, sweet-tasting powder, a flavor enhancer and a sweetness potentiator.
Cargill’s Xtend Sucromalt sweetener, a syrup derived from sucrose and maltose, combines sweetness and slow digestibility for use in beverage formulations. “Xtend sucromalt offers our customers the highly desirable benefits of slow digestibility, including sustained energy release and lower glycemic response,” says Anne Mollerus, new products project manager for Cargill, Minneapolis. “The slow and complete digestibility of Xtend sucromalt makes it unique among other sweeteners. In food and beverages, Xtend sucromalt releases its carbohydrates into the bloodstream slowly, resulting in a muted blood sugar response and a ‘slow energy’ release vs. the ‘fast energy’ release and higher glycemic response of sugar.”
According to Mollerus, slowly digestible sweeteners, such as Xtend sucromalt, fill a functional gap between full-calorie sweeteners and reduced-calorie sweeteners, such as polyols. Xtend sucromalt is GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) with no daily intake limit. It is 60 to 70 percent as sweet as sugar.
Palatinose, from Palatinit, Morris Plains, N.J., is also designed to provide sweetness and prolonged energy in sports drinks. Palatinose, known under the generic name isomaltulose, is a natural constituent of honey and sugar cane.
“The question of optimal energy supply is of increasing importance in research and product design, as this may play a role not only in health but also in physical and mental performance,” states Stephan Hausmanns, Palatinit’s business development manager.
Like sucrose, Palatinose is fully digested and thus has the same caloric value. Unlike sucrose, however, Palatinose is digested slowly and promotes fat oxidation. This slow digestibility also results in a low glycemic response and a low isulinemic response, as well as a prolonged energy supply in the form of glucose.
DSM Food Specialties, based in the Netherlands, offers PeptoPro, a patented drinkable peptide mixture treated with proprietary enzymes to cut its protein into di- and tri-peptides for fast absorption. Water soluble, de-bittered and highly nutritious, it offers a balanced amino acid profile, according to the company. PeptoPro provides energy to the muscles, helping reduce fatigue, promote faster recovery and repair damaged muscle tissue.
PeptoPro recently was selected as the key ingredient in Club Energise Sport Recovery 20, Ireland’s first protein-based sport recovery drink developed by Cantrell & Cochrance to help speed recovery after exercise.
From a traditional beverage perspective, fortification with functional ingredients can be a win-win situation for beverage manufacturers and their consumers, providing the science behind the ingredients appropriately backs up the claim. “It is time as an industry that we use scientific evidence and clinical studies to better understand the beverages of the future,” BSI’s Nickolas says. “Any beverage in the future that is not supported by true scientific research is destined for failure.” BI
Natural color and preservative ingredients
The heightened consumer penchant for natural and organic beverage ingredients was no doubt a driver behind Chr. Hansen’s recently introduced line of natural colors called ColorFruit, which offers various shades of red. The line offers improved stability with respect to heat, light and acid conditions.
“By blending a variety of anthocyanins (which are sourced from fruits and vegetables), we found that we optimized the molecular relationships between the different pigment sources, resulting in more vibrant shades and much more stable forms of natural colors than previously available,” says Tim Brunton, North American dairy industry manager at Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee. “From the health standpoint, it is well known that the intake of some anthocyanins, such as grapes, have been linked to prevention of cardiovascular diseases.”
The company’s micro-encapsulated “CapColor” turmeric, has also been shown to have improved stability in beverages. Additionally, a side benefit is that turmeric’s main color component is curcumin, which has been reported to act as an anti-inflammatory agent and help prevent degenerative diseases.
Oxidation traits such as rancidity, color loss, flavor changes, off-flavors and decreased shelf life are the result of a chain reaction of free radicals reacting to form undesirable compounds. Coupled with appropriate packaging and storage conditions, Chr. Hansen’s natural FlavorGuard rosemary extract is rich in antioxidants, which slow the oxidation chain reaction. FlavorGuard is stable in high temperatures and in the presence of oxygen, and can be added to beverages to retain quality.