The Washington, D.C.-based International Food Information Council Foundation’s 12th Annual Food and Health survey found that 96 percent of respondents seek health benefits from their food and beverage purchases. This finding is in line with trends that support health and wellness and proactively healthy lifestyles, which have driven growth in the fortified beverage segment, as consumers look for better-for-you, nutrient-dense products.
Yet, as these trends continue to proliferate, consumers now are looking for products that are not just healthy, but also will support their personal nutrition goals. With this in mind, several different groups of consumers now are shopping for products that offer specific nutritional benefits, experts note.
“There are many different consumer segments, each looking for something different in a beverage product. In a simple way, you could break this down into mainstream beverage seekers, fortified beverage seekers, and natural/wholesome beverage seekers,” explains Julie Mann, global protein program manager at Ingredion Inc., Westchester, Ill. “Mainstream is self-explanatory. The fortified beverage seekers are looking for some added vitamins to ‘enhance’ their health status, whether for general nutrition or for performance on the job [or] in a sport. The natural and wholesome beverage seekers are not usually accepting to an ‘unnatural’ fortification, as they want simple and clean food labels.”
Stefan Lander, vice president of consumer goods group sales and marketing at Omya Inc., Cincinnati, also notes the various consumer groups that are, or have the potential to become, more interested in their health and well-being.
“Consumer interest in fortified beverages is steadily growing. Traditional consumers who are skeptical about enriched foods in general may not be attracted to fortified products, but the increasing numbers of consumers who are paying greater attention to their health are seeking optimum nutrition,” he says. “This target group wants the best out of the foods they consume. Looking at the market today, I see high potential for growing this segment — especially for more targeted consumer groups like children, women, elderly people and athletes.”
Going further, Julie Imperato, marketing manager for France-based Nexira, highlights the different need states and demands of consumers based on generational demographics.
“Two important kinds of health-conscious consumers can be identified with different needs: millennials and baby boomers. Millennials are more socially conscious and connected. They are looking for healthy products, more natural, organic and with innovative flavors, such as cabbage, cucumber, spinach and so on,” she explains. “Specific product categories are addressing this population, such as drinkable soups and especially bone broth. Millennials are also looking for convenience. Beverages have to be easy-to-go and easy-to-drink.
“Baby boomers also want a healthy lifestyle,” she continues. “They are interested in fortified drinks with minerals and vitamins for stronger bones, better digestion or cardiovascular health, which represented two-thirds of the new product launches in 2015, according to a Tetra-Pak global report. Baby boomers are more traditional in their taste and they are looking for premium and high-quality ingredients.”
However, regardless of the demographic, demand for fortified beverages is growing in tandem with the interest in health and wellness, which could contiue growing, notes Rob Tomeo, senior insights manager at DSM Nutritional Products, Parsippany, N.J.
"I believe that consumers will look to fortified beverages to supplement their increasingly hectic lifestyles," he says. "They, of course, provide the energy that adults need for their daily schedule. Fortified beverages can also fuel kids' after-school activities. As people look to make healthier choices, fortification will help provide consumers with more options that balance taste and functional benefits."
Philadelphia-based Tastepoint by IFF’s technical beverage team notes that as performance and functional beverages proliferate in the marketplace, fortification with vitamins and minerals also has grown.
“It has caused the use of vitamins and minerals to increase,” the team says. “Products are now designed for a specific use: pre-workout, post-workout, low-carb, high protein, etc. Each one adding that special ingredient that will make the difference in your well-being.”
Meghan Sutton, senior marketing specialist at Tastepoint, adds: “With the increased appeal of these nutritional products, catering to a wider range of consumer needs is important, and this is a huge opportunity for new product development around vitamins, minerals and [the] overall functionality of beverages. With the amount of consumers interested in functional beverages rising, the need for new and different formulations also rises. We’re seeing more specialized formulations in the market — catering to all different lifestyles and consumer demographics.”
Customized fortification in beverage development is expected to continue, she says.
“We anticipate more specialized formulations, catering to different consumer lifestyle choices,” Sutton explains. “The market for nutritional beverages will continue to expand and change as more consumers shift toward better-for-you choices. We also anticipate fiber and protein growth.”
Nexira’s Imperato also anticipates growth in fortified beverages geared toward specific health conditions as consumers look for healthy products with specific benefits.
“To satisfy health-conscious consumers, we could anticipate a rise of drinks specially dedicated to health conditions, for [example] digestive health, stronger bones, cognitive improvement, etc.,” she says. “The food and beverage market also offers more and more plant-based products. We could anticipate a strong rise of plant-based drinks fortified with plant extracts and highlighting the active compound.”
In line with consumers’ desire for healthier products, natural fortification ingredients can benefit a product in the ever-growing marketplace, according to experts.
“We know that health-conscious consumers in particular tend to read product labels critically, so today it is definitely a massive advantage when the ingredients used are natural,” Omya’s Lander says.
Vitamins D and K are among the ones that are on the rise in beverage formulations, providing a solution for consumers with deficiencies, according to Tastepoint’s technical beverage team.
Sutton adds that vitamin B12, a common ingredient in energy drinks, has expanded usage into beverage formulations across a variety of categories.
“B12 is not only popular in the energy beverage category, but popular for consumers with a plant-based diet that may be struggling with a deficiency,” she explains.
Beverage formulations fortified with protein, fiber, probiotics and prebiotics also are growing, Sutton says.
Ramesh Thiyagarajan, senior marketing manager at DSM, notes that vitamin fortification plays in many beverage categories. "In enhanced waters and sports drinks, consumers are very interested in added vitamins, including vitamin C and B vitamins," he explains. "When we look at energy beverages, B vitamins are a fundamental part of the value proposition. And turning to juices, vitamins and nutrients are a key motivator for purchase, and D, E and B vitamins show high consumer interest."
Additionally, Omya’s Lander notes that calcium carbonate is gaining usage as consumers look for added calcium because of a medical condition or life stage.
“Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) is an outstanding and multifaceted mineral,” Lander says. “It is widespread throughout nature and occurs in various forms. It can be produced synthetically, but Omya takes a different approach and has established itself as a leading global supplier of naturally derived calcium carbonate. Our company owns mineral deposits all over the world, ensuring continuous availability.”
He also notes that blending vitamins and minerals, for example, calcium with vitamins D and K, can offer improved benefits.
“With osteoporosis being such a big issue and set to become a huge challenge for our aging population, I see great potential for milk and vegan drinks fortified with vitamins,” Lander says. “Vitamins D3 and K2 are proven to enhance the absorption of calcium and its storage in our bones. With more people than ever now aware of the interactions between different nutrients and looking for nutritional all-in-one solutions, it makes perfect sense to offer functional combinations that meet those needs.”
Vitamin C continues to be a dominant player in the space as well, Nexira’s Imperato says. With greater interest in products featuring natural ingredients, utilizing extracts that feature vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients could benefit beverage-makers, she adds.
“As a specialist in natural and organic ingredients for the food and nutrition industries, Nexira offers a wide range of products with recognized health benefits,” she says. “Nexira offers acerola extract, available with 17 percent native vitamin C or 25 percent natural vitamin C.”
Although these products are in demand, creating fortified beverages can be challenging, experts say.
“The addition of micronutrients to beverages or liquid products can present a number of technological challenges, and a good knowledge of the chemistry of the product is required to prevent ingredient interactions,” Ingredion’s Mann explains. “Many vitamins are inherently unstable, and their stability is affected by a number of factors such as oxygen, heat, ultraviolet light and the presence of other substances.
“The use of mineral salts to provide the nutritional minerals and trace elements requires considerable care and a thorough knowledge of their chemical and physical properties to anticipate their potentially negative interactions,” she continues. “It is essential that fortified beverages are subjected to realistic stability studies during product development in order to ensure compliance of stated vitamin and mineral content at the end of shelf life.”
Mann also notes that vitamins and minerals can change the flavor, color and nutritional qualities of a formulation. However, formulations with higher viscosity can help to protect vitamins and minerals, she says.
“Ingredion’s Vitessence pulse protein concentrates are produced through a simple milling and air classification process, allowing for their micro-nutrient content to remain similar to the pulses in a natural state,” Mann says. “Some of the key micro-nutrient highlights include potassium, manganese, copper, magnesium, B vitamins, phosphorus, zinc and iron.”
When utilizing vitamins, Jose Barbosa, senior manager of DSM's Nutrition Innovation Center, explains that formulators should be thinking ahead about what the product will be exposed to in order to ensure efficacy and quality.
"Vitamin fortification success depends on critical factors like exposure to moisture, heat, air, light and pH, among many others. It is imperative that formulators predict any factors that can negatively affect vitamins within their beverage matrix and chosen package type," he says. "Likewise, vitamins and minerals can also create organoleptic challenges themselves, depending on their particle size, the beverage environment, and exposure to heat and air. Food processing can affect vitamin stability, so choosing the proper level and adequate overages is vital. Furthermore, the vitamin form is critical. Choosing the right form will ensure the vitamins properly dissolve within the beverage matrix. Finally, vitamins must be high quality to ensure they are properly encapsulated and stabilized. DSM's full portfolio of vitamins not only have scientific backing, but they also come with our Quality for Life promise."
ADM/Matsutani LLC’s Doris Dougherty, Fibersol technical service representative, also highlights the benefits that fiber, and its branded Fibersol soluble dietary fibers, can offer to beverage formulations fortified with vitamins and minerals, or other nutritional ingredients.
“As more consumers seek out clean labels, fewer added sugars and better-for-you foods and beverages, fiber remains a well-understood, accepted ingredient that offers desirable claims and labeling options,” Dougherty explains. “You can expect to see fiber make its way into mainstream beverages.
“… When used in fortified beverages, Fibersol can increase the total soluble fiber content as well as reduce calories and offer improved mouthfeel in reduced- or no-sugar-added products,” she adds. “And, for beverages fortified with vitamins and minerals, Fibersol can help round out undesirable notes to provide a well-balanced flavor profile.”
Fibersol also can help boost the nutritional profile of foods and beverages without the drawbacks of other fibers, she says.
Tastepoint’s technical beverage team notes that flavors can have an important role when formulating with vitamins and minerals, due to the offnotes that some of these nutrients can impart on a formulation.
“There are masking flavors to aid in covering up the offnotes from certain nutritional ingredients, but there are also flavors to help boost other flavor components that you want to come through,” the team explains. “Flavors give the product developer the opportunity to fine-tune their product and to mask or bring out different flavor aspects depending on their target market.” BI