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Functional Ingredients in beverages


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Functional food & drinks are food and beverages with special ingredients that are associated with digestion, concentration or relaxation.

Functional beverages_
People today want to be efficient and productive - and at the same time feel good in both body and soul. Nutrition is like an individual fuel for the body: what we eat and drink determines what quality of energy we make available to the cells every day. More and more people are taking advantage of this knowledge. For example, 54 percent of German consumers are interested in products that support digestion, 35 percent of Chinese want functional drinks with anti-aging effects and 61 percent of Australians care about the nutrient content of food and beverage products!

Source: Soda’s Health-Conscious Pivot - The Future of Soft Drinks

Functional beverages for digestion

Sales of the kombucha trend drink grew by 21 percent in the U.S. from 2018 to 2019. Good digestion is an important factor for well-being per se: if the metabolism works well, this contributes to an overall good body feeling. Toxins are transported out of the body faster and complaints such as abdominal pain or a feeling of fullness are less common. The category of fruits and vegetables naturally already contain a lot of fiber. During the past few years, some fruit juice labels have launched so-called “whole fruit juices”, which score with an extra addition of fiber.

Source: "The future of nutrition, health and wellness", Michelle Teodoro, Mintel, February 2020

"A year of innovation in juice & beverage concentrates, 2020 - Functional health boosts continue to inspire juice innovation, while more sophisticated alternatives for adults are gaining wider traction", Amrin Walji, Mintel, February 2020
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Brain & sleep

According to a survey by Euromonitor International, 47 percent of 30 to 39 year olds say they are "under constant pressure to do things", compared to 46 percent of 20 to 29 year olds. On average, 15 to 20 percent are very concerned about their memory and 35 to 40 percent are moderately concerned about it. The following nootropics are increasingly used in functional beverages:

• Choline: The micronutrient, formerly known as vitamin B4, is also found in meat, eggs and some vegetables.
• Creatine: The amino acid is traditionally known from bodybuilding products.
• Resveratrol: The antioxidant is also a component of red wine. 

According to Euromonitor International, coffee and tea should have a particularly great potential for nootropics, because caffeine and L-theanine are two of the well known nootropic substances. Other ingredients in this segment include gingko, biloba or omega-3 fatty acids. For example, lutein is found in spinach and anthocyanin in blueberries.

Worldwide, people are increasingly complaining about sleeping problems. According to the EMI, only 18 percent of adults wake up refreshed and alert every day. The majority of respondents in the 20 countries say they need seven hours of sleep a day - most are far away from it. Cannabidiol (CBD), melatonin, amino acids such as L-tryptophan and L-theanine and botanicals such as passion flower are ingredients that are associated with sleep.
Sources: Nootropics Brain Health Across Food, Beverages and Consumer Health - Euromonitor Analysis
“The superfoods of the future ¬– Local, sustainable foods or foods that offer new benefits have potential to thrive as next generation superfoods”, Stephanie Mattucci, Mintel, October 2018
Food & Beverage, Marian Berelowitz, May 2020

Functional ingredients


Working in front of the computer and the increased amount of time that consumers spend on other screens such as smartphones or tablets leads to focusing on eye health. According to Mintel, the “e-athletes”, the gamers, who often focus their attention on the screen for hours, should not be underestimated: the eyes are naturally particularly stressed - which is why more and more functional drinks are focusing on this topic. For example, 25 percent of consumers between 16 and 24 in the UK are interested in drinks that improve their eye health. Seniors are also concerned with this issue: In the United States, 68 percent of those over 65 are in eye health treatment. 
Mintel mentions vitamin A followed by vitamin E, zinc and vitamin C as additional ingredients for drinks associated with eye health and eyesight. Vitamin A contributes to the maintenance of normal vision. 

Sources: “Meet the changing needs of todays athletes - Go beyond the traditional mindset for performance nutrition and look for new opportunities for gamers, outdoor athletes and the weekend warrior”, Stephanie Mattucci, Mintel, January 2020

"Patent Watch: eating for eye health - Patent activity has increased in functional food and drink to improve eye health, due mainly to the rising prevalence of eye disorders", Mintel, Neha Srivastava, January 2020


Functional beverages are a new generation of drinks for health: they have a specific effect on certain body functions through particular ingredients. The addition of certain ingredients in functional drinks is associated with sleep, concentration, relaxation etc. Functional drinks with added vitamins, minerals and fibers are on the rise.

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Maren DöblAuthor

Product Manager

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