Beverages are ideal as they are responsive to nutritional and consumer trends, evidenced by the current wave of prebiotic/probiotic enhanced products. Superfood ingredients especially benefit as it offers increased convenience through the incorporation of fruit or vegetable juice, and green tea extracts.
Packaged Facts’ Energy & Sports Drinks: U.S. Market Trends indicate that consumer demand for natural food and beverage products and those made without artificial colours, flavours, and other additives, extends to energy and sports drinks. This trend has created gaps in the market that several small start-ups and established beverage manufacturers are attempting to fill.
Consumer interest in all things natural has fostered the trend of including exotic ingredients with functional properties in energy and sports drinks. Among the most prominent of such ingredients is coconut water, which has gained popularity as a beverage and is increasingly included in sports drinks for its combination of carbohydrates and electrolytes. Products with coconut water blur the line between energy drinks and functional beverages. These are now often referred to as hydration drinks. Aloe is another ingredient with functional properties that has found its way into sports drinks refashioned as hydration drinks.
The market for hybrid beverages
These beverages feature fruits and vegetables but also contain ingredients such as caffeine for an energy boost or electrolytes needed for physical activity. Packaged Facts anticipates that energy drink manufacturers will reduce their attention on short-term, caffeinated energy boosts and instead focus on specific energy needs related to time of day and to memory and cognitive ability, using ingredients other than caffeine.
Although energy and sports drink mixes account for a minor share of retail sales, within this sector of the beverage market, these products continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of committed users. Many consumers are looking for a product that delivers vitamins and minerals with other functional ingredients such as caffeine for energy or electrolytes for body replenishment. These products may especially appeal to older energy and sports drink users, who view vitamins and minerals as important health aids.
Manage protein beverage costs
Consumer desire for convenience and high-protein, on-the-go nutrition is driving strong growth in protein beverages across multiple categories. Euromonitor states that global sales of sports nutrition RTD beverages are expected to exceed US$1.2 billion, or grow 11 per cent in 2017, driven by mainstream, active consumers. Similarly, meal replacement and complete nutrition beverages are expected to grow between five and eight per cent, respectively. While many protein beverage manufacturers are experiencing strong top-line brand growth, rising dairy prices threaten their bottom line. Blimling & Associates indicates that dairy protein prices have been steadily increasing since mid-2016 and are projected to continue to advance through 2017 to 2018.
A new offering from Du Pont is the Supro XT55 isolated soy protein, which is designed specifically to improve the profitability of ready-to-drink, high-protein beverages by assisting beverage manufacturers to effectively manage protein costs. ‘Soy protein has always been considered an economic alternative to dairy proteins, providing direct cost savings and more stable pricing. Today it’s even more relevant, as plant proteins keep growing in popularity and demand,’ says Jean Heggie, strategic marketing lead, DuPont Nutrition & Health.
‘In beverages, blending dairy and soy proteins has become a popular formulation strategy for controlling costs, while driving better flavour profiles. When working with certain RTD beverage formulas, traditional soy proteins would build too much viscosity or be less stable over time limiting how much dairy protein we could effectively replace. Supro XT55 addresses those barriers.’ It is now possible to replace up to 50 per cent of the dairy protein in beverage formulations without compromising sensory performance or protein nutrition. It provides the perfect balance of viscosity and protein stability, while delivering cost savings and exceptional flavour performance. The product is a high-quality, sustainable source of plant-based protein, with all the associated nutrition and health benefits of soy protein.
‘Supro XT 55 expands the options beverage manufacturers have to control protein costs, while maintaining or improving flavour profiles,’ explains Heggie. ‘Our sensory research proves that dairy and soy blends drive better flavour. Supro XT 55 now gives us a wider range of options to create protein systems for our customers that optimise flavour, cost and nutrition,’ Heggie concludes.