A major change in the beverage industry has been the movement towards functional beverages as consumers strive to improve health. It is also an opportunity for brands to create innovative new products in line with new consumers’ habits and lifestyle aspirations.
But just what are Functional Drinks?
Functional beverages are non-alcoholic beverages which contain non-traditional ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, dietary fibres, probiotics, and added fruits. They include energy drinks, fortified juice, sports drinks, dairy and dairy alternative drinks, but also water products, ready-to-drink tea, and coffee.
The functional beverage market is expected to reach $173.23 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 7%. According to ReportLinker, ‘the growth is mainly due to the companies resuming their operations and adapting to the new normal while recovering from the COVID-19 impact, which had earlier led to restrictive containment measures involving social distancing, remote working, and the closure of commercial activities that resulted in operational challenges.’
KICR has worked extensively within the functional ingredient discovery and product application space.
With regards to beverages, we see that by integrating wellness flavours into product applications, beverage brands need to be careful not to underscore and balance their focus on targeted nutrition categories such as immunity, brain health, aging, and digestion.
Concerning claims around family health have been supported by the various trends within the functional drinks market, such as natural botanicals that are extracted from plant parts such as roots, flowers, fruits, leaves, or seeds and offer various functional benefits ranging from enhancing memory to boosting energy, burning fat, and providing immune system support, relaxation drinks.
Will Leigh, KICR’s Lead Innovation Consultant says: ‘When developing a functional drink, it’s critical to consider the interplay between the flavours, colours and the desired effect of the final product; calming, soothing flavours for a relaxing still drink that has mottled or muted tones; vibrant, exciting flavours can be paired with spicy notes from ginger or chilli in a sparkling, bright beverage. You’re creating a product the elements of which must be harmonious.’
Some examples of KICR’s favourite Functional Drinks