Kerry quoted figures from Mintel that revealed that two in three consumers are influenced by health and wellness when choosing what to eat or drink. Kerry said this represents a “significant opportunity” for brands as consumer demand grows.
It said that while functional beverages have previously been associated with sports enthusiasts, the growing number of lifestyle consumers such as healthy agers, vegans and vegetarians, and millennial women, are becoming attracted to the category.
This comes as global product launches with functional claims grew by 19% between 2014 and 2018 as brands introduced more functional additive ingredients to meet rising consumer demand (Mintel GNPD, 2019).
Key functional needs sought by consumers include improved immunity and digestive health, with demand for plant-based products also on the rise.
Kerry said that there was space for innovation in creating convenient performance nutrition beverage products for consumers on-the-go, who would like to consume products following exercise or playing sports.
It also said that functional beverages, which claim to provide an energy boost, are growing in popularity. The market for pre-work out blends is also growing, which provides a great opportunity for caffeinated sports beverages in a ready-to-drink or powder format, it said.
Immunity is also surging ahead as a key claim in the European market, and this presents an opportunity for to create smoothies and snacks with functional claims.
There is also the issue of gut health with many consumers taking probiotics and prebiotics. Kerry said that digestive health could be the next big functional “crowd-pleaser.”
“Healthier food and beverage choices have long been on top of consumer’s mind, but in recent years we have seen a huge increase in interest towards holistic wellbeing. Consumers do not only want to consume beverage products that are lower in sugar, they are actively looking for added health-enhancing ingredients. The Covid-19 pandemic has further increased the importance of this trend,” said Janka Reke, Strategic Marketeer for Beverages with Kerry Europe & Russia.
“We are also seeing that consumers are putting a growing emphasis on purchasing sustainable products. Almost two in three of European consumers would like to see companies to take a position on sustainability. For quality products, responsible and sustainable sourcing is key.”
However, Kerry said that beverages manufacturers would have to work hard to meet consumer expectations around taste and texture, as well as delivering the functionality.
“Lifestyle consumers are looking for quality, backed ingredients that they can trust. They are also looking for products that are living up to their expectations around taste, texture and flavour,” added Celia Ridet, senior technologist with Kerry.
“A key challenge of creating fortified beverage products is the impact on texture and mouthfeel. Creating a tasty flavour profile and making sure that the off-notes from fortification are balanced out are key for the enjoyment of the product.”
To address this growing trend, Kerry has launched a new eBook, which outlines how manufacturers and brand owners can create functional beverages to appeal to consumers.