Functional drinks: possibilities for innovation

functional drinks

It is undeniable: functionalization has become a must in the food and beverage market. We explored this theme in a previous article: ‘Will functional foods still be relevant in the future?’, highlighting in particular the strong growth in the functional drinks market. The answer, then and now, is a resounding yes.

The functional drinks market is gaining momentum. It is expected to grow at nearly 6% per year until 2030, reaching over $200 billion.[1]

As with all growing segments, new players are eager to be part of this expansion, and there are a number of similar products. The question then arises: how can manufacturers innovate in this competitive segment? Some encouraging possibilities areas are emerging e.g., promises, ingredients, product typology. And of course, postbiotics are part of the solution! 

Defining functional drinks

First of all, it is important to remember that there is no official definition of “functional drink”. However, it is necessary to clarify what we are talking about in this article. Here, we refer to beverages with a specific health/wellness promise.

What’s more, water can also become functional thanks to the addition of food supplements in liquid form or any other dilutable products. An exciting opportunity to explore in terms of galenics!

Innovating through functional drink promises

Today, many products in the functional beverage segment are positioned on energy.

Innovating in this segment is also a question of promise. Following the major market trends and offering functional products around immunity or digestion is essential. The immunity promise in particular is the most sought-after in functional solutions.

Furthermore, we foresee very specific fields of application such as women’s health and stress, offering exciting possibilities for product development.

Innovate with the right ingredients

Ingredient choice is key when it comes to innovation. Today, formulations have been cleaned up: consumers are looking for products with less sugar and sweeteners, and no preservatives.

They are also looking for differentiating elements. There is increasing evidence that consumers are looking beyond products based on classic plant extracts such as guarana and are exploring new possibilities adapted to their lifestyle with a scientifically proven health benefit..

Postbiotics offer an exciting opportunity for innovation: they provide a new avenue for product development and to diversify ingredients in the field of functional drinks.

The advantages of postbiotic ingredients such as LBiome™ are multiple: beyond its health benefits, the ingredient is versatile and can be integrated into liquid matrices. In addition, its inherent stability as a postbiotic makes it easy to store. Finally, it has a light taste, and fully conforms to the gustatory challenge of functional drinks.

It is an ideal ingredient to integrate into your future functional drinks concept to boost immunity and improve digestion.

Innovate with the product typology

Product typology is also a key issue for successful products.

When it comes to innovation, it is essential to respond to consumer needs and demands. But these are constantly changing: lifestyles are becoming faster and more demanding. It is necessary to offer practical, mobile and instantaneous solutions to meet these constraints. Why not turn to shots?

There are also high expectations around packaging: single use is to be phased out, in favor of recyclable, durable or reusable solutions.

Innovate with positioning

Last but not least: positioning. We mentioned promises earlier, but your entire product discourse can differentiate you on the market.

For example, it is highly effective to emphasize hydration: the strength of a functional drink is precisely the fact that it is a drink. Regardless of the health issue addressed, it is certainly worthwhile  to remind consumers of  the virtues of hydration in communication around the product.. Hydration is always an invaluable benefit.

Finally, keep in mind that any dietary supplement in dilutable form, such as sticks, can transform water into a functional drink, providing great opportunities on the drinks market!

As we can see, there are many opportunities to innovate in the functional drinks market. Whether it is the choice of ingredients, the health issue, or the product typology, the range of solutions is extensive.

As far as ingredients are concerned, we are convinced of the key role of postbiotics in the future of functional drinks: stable, safe, natural, functional, LBiome™ ticks all the boxes.

Finally, beyond these avenues for innovation, the macro trends of the nutrition market remain absolute essentials: transparency, eating pleasure and taste are proven to convince the end consumer.

[1] Allied Market Research, Functional Beverages Market, 2021

AdobeStock / Jacob Lund