Top Natural Flavors to Enhance Functional Beverages
By: Talking Nutrition Editors
There is a growing demand for beverages with natural flavours and added health benefits.
- Consumers are looking for functional but flavorful food and beverages, and are particularly focused on natural flavors
- Research has shown fruit flavors are the most popular for beverages but interest in botanicals is also growing
- The function and color of a product may attract a new customer, but to secure a repeat purchase or loyal consumer, taste is key for foods and beverages
Consumers and manufacturers, alike, don’t need to go far to see the latest trends in formulation. A quick trip to the grocery store or local coffee shop will highlight food products for healthy aging, beverages for stress-relief and an abundance of flavor-infused food and beverage options. From rose-flavored teas and chocolate-flavored coffees to blueberry-flavored protein drinks, the demand for flavor-rich products is growing as consumers increasingly select foods and beverages with natural flavors and product formulations for health benefits. A 2017 report from Mintel underscores this trend in global markets: 62% of German adults and 60% of Spanish and Polish adults are interested in natural flavors in their food and drink.1
For manufacturers looking to incorporate these types of flavors into products, fruit flavors are a “natural” fit. The reason is simple: Consumers are familiar with the bases of fruit flavors – they can taste most fruits right in their grocery store’s produce section – and consumers are frequently drawn to familiarity in foods and beverages. Globally, fruit flavors were the most common flavors utilized in beverage launches between 2012 and 2016.1
Despite their popularity, flavor inspirations from fruits, vegetables and herbs are still relatively underutilized in the beverage industry. There are numerous opportunities available to formulators interested in incorporating fruit flavors into products, while continuing to test other new flavors. For example, the market shows growth potential for the use of exotic or super fruit flavors – like acai and goji berry – to appeal to consumers interested in trying new flavors, while still maintaining some familiarity. Another strategy for innovation? Using flavors as a means of connecting products with specific locations, such as a leading brand’s Florida Orange Carbonated Drink made with citrus juice from the state of Florida.1
Familiar fruit flavors aren’t the only option for manufacturers looking to take tastes to the next level. Consumers’ interest in natural flavors are also tied to the increased adoption of botanicals and botanical extracts; plant-derived ingredients that can help aid in the management of health, in addition to providing flavor. Botanicals like chamomile (often found in teas) and ginger (an increasingly trendy ingredient in beverage applications) are appealing to consumers’ taste buds, while also offering functionality – relaxation and digestive benefits, respectively, for these ingredients. Botanical ingredients, like matcha, ginseng and cinnamon, are growing in popularity amongst Millennials, a generation that may be more open to less-conventional ingredients.2
Floral flavors, one group of botanical ingredients, are sprouting up more regularly in food and beverage applications. While Asia leads the market for floral flavors, the trend has been growing in popularity around the globe with jasmine, rose, elderflower, hibiscus and chrysanthemum being used most commonly in product launches. 1 For beverages, specifically, rose accents are an emerging trend, gaining popularity in Europe and Asia. While the flavor commonly appears in tea, the last year saw the emergence of the botanical in fruit-flavored still drinks, flavored alcoholic beverages, beverage mixes, carbonated soft drinks, ready-to-drink ice tea and meal replacement drinks.1
Specific flavors may also play a role in helping consumers lead healthier lifestyles by emulating the taste of treats that some restrictive diet plans don’t always allow. Crossover-flavors present opportunities to taste indulgent items, such as adult drinks, baked foods and chocolate, through flavoring in products that contain less sugar, fat or calories than the “real thing.” In China, 46% of coffee consumers aged 20-49 are interested in such products and would pay more for dessert-inspired coffee.1 From rosé wine-flavored tea to coffee with chocolate truffle flavoring, new innovations in functional beverages and flavoring are giving health-conscious consumers the opportunity to indulge in their favorite products with less guilt – and just as much flavor.
The function and color of a product may attract a new customer, but to secure a repeat purchase or loyal consumer, taste is the key for foods and beverages. Manufacturers may find using fruit, floral and crossover flavors is the key to success in launching products in the functional food and beverage industry.
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- Zegler, J. (2017). Flavor Focus: Beverages. Retrieved from: http://bit.ly/2vYiUPP
Woshnak, L.L. (2016) Strategic Nutrition for Millennials – Part I. Retrieved from: http://bit.ly/2fcts72
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