There’s a shift under way in the products consumers eat and drink, said Melissa Abbott, vice-president of culinary insights for The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash. Some consumers want more from their food and beverage choices, with wellness and deliciousness going hand-in-hand.
Within the beverage category, hydration and thirst quenching remain motivators for consumption, but nutrition and health benefits are also careful considerations. Energy and weight management now are being factored into beverage selection by today’s consumers, with a growing number leaning on beverages as on-the-go snacks.
Consumers have learned that snacking on foods and beverages that deliver nutrients is a more natural way to fuel the body throughout the day, rather than grabbing for a Red Bull, explained Ms. Abbott. The idea of beverages as a snack is exploding as consumers realize beverages may be satiating, nutritious and fun.
“Sipping for playful wellness has become a cultural norm,” Ms. Abbott said. Consumers like to express themselves by the beverage they are walking around with. This is particularly true for millennials.
“Today’s consumers want healthier refreshment, variety and convenience in their beverages,” said Gary Hemphill, managing director of research, Beverage Marketing Corp. (B.M.C.), New York City.
In response, beverage formulators are giving their products boosts of extra nutrition through fortification. This is not to be confused with enrich, with refers to the addition of micronutrients depleted during processing.
The World Health Organization and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations defines fortification as “the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient in a food irrespective of whether the nutrients were originally in the food before processing or not, so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and to provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health.”
Historically, fortification has focused on adding vitamins and minerals to everyday foods to prevent deficiencies that may lead to disease. For example, most milk is fortified with vitamin D, a nutrient that is not inherent in milk, but has been added since the 1930s to prevent rickets, a debilitating bone disease. Other examples include adding calcium to orange juice and folic acid to baking flour.
Fortification is about boosting the nutrition profile by “invisible” addition of a nutrient not inherent to the product. In addition to vitamins and minerals, the list of potential fortificants includes such concentrated, purified compounds as fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, plant extracts, probiotics and proteins.
Fortified beverage innovations
Fortification adds value to children’s beverages, providing incentive for the gatekeeper to purchase. It also helps get the right nutrients in growing bodies. That is what the consumer gets with Giggle Sparkling Water from Soul Fizz Inc., Newport Beach, Calif.
“We searched all over the world for a natural sparkling beverage that’s better for you and tastes great, too,” said Elle Kister, chief executive officer and founder of Soul Fizz. “It did not exist. We decided to create it ourselves. My family spent weeks in the kitchen, experimenting and playing with fresh fruity flavors and fizzy water, determined to make an awesome fizz to thrill the taste buds of kids of all ages.”
The result was Giggle, a vitamin-fortified organic carbonated beverage.
“We wanted to keep it low in calories, so we sweetened it with erythritol, stevia and a hint of fruit juice,” she said.
Currently, the beverage comes in lemon and orange flavors and more are in the works. Each 8.4-oz can contains 10 or 15 calories, respectively.
“We decided to fortify with vitamins to cater to the nutritional needs of children,” Ms. Kister said. “It’s a challenge to get children to eat and drink healthy foods, as well as take vitamins. Giggle helps.”
David Lester, chief executive officer of Obi, Santa Cruz, Calif., said, “While traditional soda has lost more than $1 billion in the past five years, every other sparkling alternative category has been in double-digit growth over the same period. Consumers haven’t fallen out of love with bubbles, but they are avoiding sugar, artificial sweeteners and genetically modified ingredients.”
In response, Mr. Lester developed Obi Probiotic Soda, a low-calorie, live probiotic organic soda made from kefir cultures and juices and sweetened with stevia. In development for more than five years, at the heart of Obi is its proprietary water kefir culture that contains 20 strains of live probiotics and lacks the acidic taste associated with many probiotics, according to the company.
Driven by increased demand for sparkling beverage options, Celsius Holdings Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., is growing its namesake “healthy energy drink” line with grape and watermelon varieties. The ready-to-drink (R.-T.-D.) collection has clinical data that shows drinking the beverage before exercise may help burn up to 93% more body fat while providing an energy boost. The drinks are fueled by a proprietary blend of ginger, green tea, guarana, taurine, guarana, and vitamin B-complex and vitamin C.
Bakersfield, Calif.-based Bolthouse Farms, a business of Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J., offers an array of fortified beverages. For example, Multi-V Goodness, which comes in cherry and orange flavors, is a 100% fruit juice smoothie fortified with vitamins A, C, D, E, K and B-complex. The combination of fruits and fortificants enables the product package to tout “100% Daily Value of 12 Essential Vitamins.” The smoothie also is fortified with inulin, boosting the fiber content in an 8-oz glass to 8 grams instead of 1.
Bolthouse C-Boost 100% juice smoothie features immune-enhancing ingredients. The smoothie is a base of Acerola cherries, mangos and pears, which contain 1,200% of the Daily Value for vitamin C, according to the company. The smoothie is fortified with vitamin E, zinc and Echinacea, fortificants recognized as immune boosters.
Temple Turmeric Inc., New York City, manufacturers of turmeric-based beverages created to support positive inflammation response, has expanded its product line to include options that contain probiotics. The company’s Holiday Spiced Lassi and Pure Fire Cider varieties contain the patented spore-forming probiotic Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086.
The same probiotic is used in a kind of R.-T.-D. cold-brew coffee. JÙS by Julie’s Probiotic Cold Brew Coffee, New York City, provides an energy boost along with additional immune and digestive health benefits. The beverage comes in two flavors — original and vanilla — with a 16-oz bottle retailing for $8.
“We’ve always placed importance on creating quality products that promote good digestive health, since 70% of the immune system is found there,” said Julie Maleh, founder of JÙS by Julie. “Our blended juices provide fiber that is crucial to healthy digestion, and now we’re taking it one step further with our Probiotic Cold Brew Coffee by giving our customers a delicious daily way to further increase the good bacteria in their systems.”
Another beverage fortificant becoming more popular is protein, specifically whey proteins, many of which qualify as a fortificant because they may be added invisibly into a beverage. For example, Miami Beverage Company L.L.C., Branford, Conn., developed Trimino, a line of sugar-free, low-calorie functional protein waters. The clear beverages are powered by 7 grams of whey protein and vitamin B complex. At only 28 calories per 16-oz bottle, labels claim the product boosts metabolism and curbs appetite.
Fluid milk, an inherent source of whey proteins and well as casein proteins, is being fortified with all types of nutrients to make it better fit that on-the-go snacking daypart. Austria’s TSC Food Products recently introduced Dancing Cow 1-Minute Breakfast, which is a blend of skim milk and cereals and comes in two varieties: banana and chocolate. The drinks are fortified with inulin; vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and B12; calcium; and folic acid.
Dairy Farmers of America, Kansas City, is introducing Live Real Farms. The shelf-stable beverage is an energy drink described as “made with real dairy and fruit juice.” Energy comes from the naturally occurring sugars in the juices, the skim milk and added fruit purees, as well as green tea extract and vitamin B12. The product, which comes in three flavors — berry, peach mango and strawberry banana — also gets a protein boost from whey protein isolate.
Seattle-based Darigold offers RE-fuel Protein Milk, a lactose-free (from the addition of lactase) recovery beverage shown to increase performance and recovery of muscles after exercise. It is basically chocolate milk with added protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to nourish tired muscles and fight fatigue. Vitamins A, B1, B2, D and E are added along with natural electrolytes and six essential minerals. RE-fuel comes in two varieties: chocolate peanut butter and chocolate.
ViSalus, Troy, Mich., began 2016 by debuting Vi-Shape Superfood Shake. The vegan, kosher, lactose-free and gluten-free drink mix combines 17 grams of plant-based proteins with probiotics, prebiotics, digestive enzymes, nine essential amino acids, 25 vitamins and minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber, according to the company.
More than fortification
Beauty-from-within and anti-aging beverages are fortified products, with antioxidants a primary component. A new concept that builds on the foundation of what goes into the body may assist with appearance comes from Laguna Beach, Calif.-based dermatologist Bobby Awadalla, M.D., who has developed UVO, a R.-T-.D. supplement formulated to help protect the skin from the sun. The dietary supplement’s formula combines more than 30 vitamins, phytonutrients and antioxidants that protect the skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (U.V.) rays, according to the company. Whereas topical sunscreens protect the skin on the outside, UVO is designed to work from the inside. Its ingredients have been shown in a clinical trial to help protect and repair D.N.A., cell membranes and collagen while promoting healthy skin function. A clinical trial with UVO showed that within 30 minutes of drinking one bottle, it increases the U.V. dose required to cause redness for three to five hours.
“As a dermatologist, I see patients every day that experience negative short and long-term effects of the sun’s harmful U.V. rays,” Dr. Awadalla said. “When U.V. rays reach your body, skin cells, D.N.A., and collagen can be damaged. After repeatedly seeing patients forget or neglect to use traditional sunscreens, I realized we needed to offer alternative ways to protect people from the sun.”
UVO currently comes in an orange peach flavor. The water, which helps hydrate while providing its functional benefit as a vehicle for the ingredients, contains real fruit juices and is sweetened with a combination of erythritol, stevia and sugar and delivers 60 calories per bottle. In addition to an array of vitamins and minerals, other functional ingredients include coenzyme Q10, grape seed extract, green tea extract, lutein, milk thistle extract and resveratrol. The nutrient load requires it be designated a dietary supplement.