Advancements in soluble fibers have given beverage developers a whole new set of tools for delivering products that help to fill the fiber gap. Although even the savviest of consumers might not know the difference between inulin and oligofructose, they are beginning to explore the growing number of fiber-rich options available outside of the bread and snack bar categories.

A report by Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) shows that between 2009 and 2011, 92 beverage products launched in the United States that touted a “high or added fiber” claim. The subcategory of meal replacement beverages remained the leader in launches and overall growth throughout all subcategories, with 30 new launches in 2011 alone.

The next fastest growing subcategories are juice, beverage mixes and nectars, according to GNPD. Fiber-enriched sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit and fruit-flavored still drinks, water and coffee products also launched in the United States in this time period, although at a much lower rate than other subcategories.

Although manufacturers might or might not meet the requirements needed to make a formal U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) health claim on their packaging, the marketing messages on these new high-fiber beverages are loud and clear. New products are “smart,” “boosted,” “enhanced” and “elevated,” the report notes.

An allure for shoppers seeking increased digestive health, immune health and weight loss has captured as well as added appeal in convenient, on-the-go formats like powdered drink sticks and bottled shakes. Familiar flavor options such as coconut, blueberry, green tea and pomegranate play off of ingredients that have already established a “good for me” image in the minds of consumers, according to GNPD.


Sunsweet PlumSmart 100 percent Plum Juice

Prunes, the dried version of plums, have long been associated with fiber and used as a mild laxative. Yuba City, Calif.-based Sunsweet Growers builds on the dried fruit’s healthful image with its PlumSmart juice, a blend of plum and grape juice from concentrate featuring the dietary fiber dextrin. The company touts the PlumSmart line as being “for your digestive health,” and notes that one 8-ounce serving offers 3 grams of dietary fiber. The juice also is available as PlumSmart Light, with 60 percent fewer calories and sugar than the original.


Naked Blue Machine Boosted 100 percent Juice Smoothie

A wholly owned subsidiary of PepsiCo, Naked Juice, Monrovia, Calif., calls its Blue Machine Boosted 100 percent Juice Smoothie a “fiber-full flavor machine of blueberry-blackberry goodness.” Now available in a 64-ounce newly designed multi-serve package, the smoothie contains Fibersol-2 dietary fiber and contains 7 grams of dietary fiber in each serving with nearly 2 servings in each bottle.  


YZ Digestive Health Drink Mix

Displayed at the Natural Products Expo East last year, YZ (Wise) Digestive Health Drink Mix was designed by Centerbrook, Conn.-based Tower Brands to promote digestive health along with good hydration. In addition to its Green Tea variety, YZ’s Lemon Ginger flavor contains 3 grams of prebiotic fiber and electrolytes.


The Biggest Loser Protein 2Go

Carlsbad, Calif.-based Designer Whey’s weight loss products branded to NBC’s weight loss reality television show “The Biggest Loser” now are available in 0.6-ounce flavored drink stick packets called Protein 2Go. The “shake and go” drink stick is designed to be mixed with one 16.9-ounce bottle of water as a snack to help curb hunger between meals and is available in Lemonade, Blue Blueberry and Red Raspberry flavors. Although it’s marketed primarily as a protein beverage mix, the packaging advertises 6 grams of fiber in each serving, and the label lists the prebiotic fiber of isomalto-oligosaccharides as an ingredient.


Abbot Ensure Immune Health Shake

Targeted at baby boomers wanting to boost their immune health, Abbot Laboratories, Colombus, Ohio, created Ensure Immune Health Shakes featuring a blend of prebiotic fiber to help promote digestive tract and immune health. Available in Vanilla, Milk Chocolate, and Strawberry and Cream flavors, the shakes retail in 8-ounce four-packs, are gluten-free and boast the additional ingredients of omega-3 fatty acids and 24 essential vitamins and minerals.


Benefiber Fiber Drink Mix

Benefiber is an established brand associated with nutritional fiber. Novartis Consumer Health, Parsippany, N.J., now offers the fiber drink mix in flavored stick packets, making it easier for consumers to mix the 5-ounce stick of powder into a bottle of water when they are on-the-go. The company promotes that Benefiber drink mixes are “the perfect complement to your water bottle.” The mix contains 3 grams of soluble wheat dextrin fiber in each serving and is said to support digestive health. The drink mixes are available in Cherry Pomegranate and Strawberry varieties, and also in the Original ‘Taste-Free’ version that can be added to a variety of beverages or soft food to boost fiber intake, according to the company. 


Kellogg's Special K20 Protein Water Mix

Kellogg’s, Battle Creek, Mich., introduced beverages to its Special K brand in the form of fortified water mixes and shakes with “a reduced feeling of hunger” promoted by the company through an increased intake of both protein and fiber. The Kellogg's Special K2O Protein Water Mix is available in Strawberry Kiwi and Pink Lemonade in 3.6-ounce packs of powdered drink stick mixes. One serving contains 5 grams of dietary fiber, which is the same amount that is offered in a single serving of the Special K Protein Plus cereal.


Elevate Enhanced Natural Fiber Water

Launched in late 2010, Puerto Rico-based 9-12 Corp.’s Elevate Enhanced Natural Fiber Water is a lightly flavored spring water that contains 3 grams of corn-based maltodextrin soluble fiber in each serving. Packaged in a 16.9-ounce eco-friendly bottle, Elevate’s goal is to make fiber intake easy and linking it with increased hydration for good measure, the company says. The product currently retails in Puerto Rico and the Southeastern United States and is available in Lemon and Orange flavors. 


Pre Probiotic Enhancer

First launched in 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified organic Pre Probiotic Enhancer gets down to business with its brand image focused squarely on prebiotic benefits. According to Anaheim, Calif-based Pre Beverage Co., the drink’s Jarrow Formulas blend of prebiotic inulin and fructooligosaccharides enhance the growth of beneficial bacteria, support the body's internal defense and promote a healthy digestive balance. One 16.9-ounce bottle contains 3.5 grams of prebiotics, which is equivalent to 2 grams of dietary fiber. The drink, sweetened with stevia and organic cane sugar, is available in a variety of flavors including Tropical Coconut Water. A zero-calorie version, Pre Zero, and drink mix sticks also are available.


Froose Beverage

Froose Brands, Media, Penn., provides innovation for children’s beverages through its low-sugar, functional Froose beverage. Marketed to parents as a low-sugar “whole food beverage,” it comes in a variety of natural fruit flavors including Cherry. Froose is available in kid-friendly sip boxes and now also in valued-sized 46-ounce PET bottles. The package claims that the drink contains a “good source of fiber” in the form of 3 grams of soluble and insoluble fiber, including inulin.