In the 1993 sports comedy “Rookie of the Year,” Henry Rowengartner joins the Chicago Cubs after the Little League baseball player can throw like the pros when his tendons heal too tight after breaking his arm. The Cubs have a game against the New York Mets where, if they win, it would win them the division and they’d advance to the National League Championship Series. But after slipping on a baseball, Rowengartner learns he can’t throw fastballs anymore and instead comes up with new strategies to help the team beat the Mets, including the hidden ball trick and trading insults with one of the base runners. 

In the beverage market, brand owners are changing their strategies in terms of healthy beverages as consumers are looking beyond just physical health. At IFT First, Innova Market Insights presented its “Health strategies in beverages” to attendees, which highlighted that health and wellbeing no longer is limited to the body. Based on 2021 research across 11 countries, the research firm found that physical health remains a top focus, but that holistic health is on the rise. For instance, mental and emotional health as well as spiritual health by linking feeling good to doing good and positive sense of self.


Gym Weed botanical energy drink
Gym Weed is a botanical energy drink featuring lion’s mane, l-theanine, B vitamins and electrolytes to support recovery.
Image courtesy of Alternative Biologics Inc.


As an example, it spotlighted Gym Weed, a botanical energy drink featuring lion’s mane, l-theanine, B vitamins and electrolytes to support recovery.

Research shows that positive natural nutrition is important to consumers. A 2021 Innova Health & Nutrition Survey of U.S. consumers found 44% of respondents indicated that they try to limit or reduce products/ingredients that are bad for them, while 15% indicated they choose natural products to avoid additives and preservatives as much as possible.

Also influencing the beverage market has been immune health, likely in association with the pandemic. In terms of functional segments, Innova research found that immune health is one of the fastest-growing with the segment up a compound annual growth rate of 57% from April 2019 to March 2022. But the market research firm also sees more opportunity to converge energy with immune health, stating as a Key Takeaway in its presentation: “Stronger connection between immunity and energy: Look for more products as well as messaging trying to establish that the stronger your immune system, the better for you.”

As an example of this, it notes Starbucks BAYA Energy is a sparkling energy drink featuring 160 mg of caffeine in each 12-ounce can, but also has a front of pack claim of including antioxidant vitamin C for immune support.

As beverage-makers strive to offer healthy beverage options, there now are more strategies that formulators can take to deliver refreshment and functionality.