Increasing Demand for Personalized, Functional Beverages

The trend toward personalized nutrition has had a dramatic effect on the functional beverage sector, as a number of brands have released niche products tailored to specific consumer groups. Functional beverages come in a number of different forms, including coffee beverages supplemented additional functional ingredients, colorful drinks containing unusual ingredients, which attract consumers through their aesthetic value, superfood beverages with supposed medical properties, and gut health beverages which include probiotics.

"Functional has many faces including a cognitive function which encompasses sleep, stress, anxiety, depression and focus," said Suzy Badaraco, a specialist in menu trends. “It can also apply to digestion, joint, skin, bone, and hair health. A functional label must be tied to solid science or consumers will not only abandon the product, but they can also retaliate through social media and lawsuits."

However, the lack of specificity has not dampened consumer demand, or the provision of new products on the market. Notably, there has been an explosion of interest in kochumba, a type of fermented tea drink, due in part to controversial health claims. A number of beverage makers, including the Nektor Juice Bar, have introduced kochumba products, hoping to tap into a now $1.5 billion global market. The kochumba phenomenon is tied to interest in bitter flavors and cold brew teas, influenced by a widespread perception that bitterness is healthy, as increasingly adventurous consumers are counteracting the soft drink craze in the twentieth century. Furthermore, probiotic beverages, a classification that applies to kochumba and a range of other new drinks, address real concerns about overexposure to antibiotics in modern society.

Another category that has made waves is functional water, bottled water products that are supplemented with vitamins, minerals, and inventive, often citrus-based flavors. Flow Alkaline Spring Water, a Canadian company, has released a functional water product infused with plant ingredients, that has been well-received by American consumers.

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