Functional, flavorful beverages are on the rise.
Drinks with health benefits and unique flavor profiles are shaking up the beverage industry. Driven by consumer desire for “functional foods”(foods and beverages with potentially positive effects on health beyond basic nutrition), drinks with antioxidants, protein, probiotics, or added vitamins are becoming more and more in demand.”
When looking for drinks outside of meal accompaniment, nutritional value is a big factor for many consumers. These instances are when a large portion of the population is shifting toward functional beverages that provide greater nutritional benefits than most carbonated drinks. And, right now, beverages with functional benefits are leading the way for increased beverage sales in foodservice.
Fermented, flavorful kombucha
Kombucha has exploded on menus across the country over the last several years and it’s become popular at grab-and-go establishments. As a fermented drink made with tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast, it has the fizziness of carbonated drinks, but with a sharper flavor only found through fermentation. Additionally, because flavors can be easily added, it’s available in a wide range of taste profiles, from spicy to sweet to tart. But its real appeal comes from the perceived health benefits.
Rich in antioxidants and tea polyphenols with natural probiotics, some consumers believe kombucha may promote a healthy immune system, and help maintain good heart health due to anti-inflammatory benefits.1 And this is no surprise—kombucha has been around for roughly 2,000 years, with origins in ancient China, where it was supposedly known as “The Tea of Immortality.” Today, brands such as KeVita are keeping the tradition alive in products that combine popular contemporary tastes with the kombucha brewing process to create flavor options including Lavender Melon, Tart Cherry, Blueberry Basil, Ginger, and more.
1 Breakthru Beverage Group, “Top Trending Flavors of 2018: Ginger,” 3/21/18.
Cold-pressed juices are gaining momentum
Cold-pressed juices, such as Naked Pressed Lively Carrot or Bright Greens, are decidedly attractive to consumers because they consist of natural extracts from fruits and vegetables, with maximum nutrient content. By avoiding heat and oxygen, the cold pressing doesn’t destroy certain enzymes and nutrients (like Vitamin C) and ensures very little is lost in the process. Additional spices or flavors might be added for taste, but these drinks are generally free of added sugar or preservatives, enhancing their “functional benefit” appeal. Plus, many cold-pressed options are Non-GMO Certified, adding to their health halo and enticing consumers who are looking for clean labels.
There are no shortage of functional beverages to offer—whether it’s kombucha, smoothies, coconut water, cold-pressed juices, or others—but it’s becoming increasingly clear that having them on hand for consumers to choose is a smart choice.