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By David Feder, RD, Technical Editor | 03/31/2009
We’re a nation obsessed with health ... and with beverages. Making a healthier beverage in 2000 was easy -- you just added calcium or vitamin C and you were done. By 2005, all you needed was green tea or a squirt of pomegranate. But as we near the second decade of the 21st century, there’s a whole lot more science and technology going into making better-for-you liquid refreshments.
Superfruits are still hot, both on their own and in familiar, antioxidant-loaded flavor combinations (think açai-blueberry). “As globalization continues and market demand continues to increase, we will likely see more superfruits that few have ever heard of making their way into our markets,” says Sean Poynter, vice president of new product development for mangosteen-based beverage maker XanGo LLC (www.xango.com), Lehi, Utah.
But for all their popularity, there still are difficulties in playing in navigating the superfruit market.
“When sourcing a superfruit from remote regions of the world, some companies may find managing their supply chain to be a challenge,” he continues. “In 2008, our challenges included record high fuel and commodity prices. While prices have eased a bit, we are now in a period of less predictability.”
Poynter also reminds that attention to relationships at each point of the supply chain is critical to success, especially as world economic and political turmoil continues.
“Political upheavals in various parts of the world are contributing to uncertainty,” he says. “Any hiccups along the way could add unnecessary cost, diminish the integrity and quality of the fruit and disrupt the balance of supply and demand. That’s where the strong relationships with suppliers and a good reputation and relationship with government leaders help.”
Beverage trends extend to healthier drinks for kids, too. “There will be a continued effort in the development of natural, all-natural and organic beverages,” says Thomas Arndt, president of Los Angeles-based Y Water Inc. (www.ywater.us), “a new concept in children’s beverages,” as its motto states.
The company manufactures organic, low-sugar beverages for children, packaged in Y-shaped bottles. The four varieties — Bone Water (enriched with calcium, fluoride and vitamins A, C and D), Brain Water (with zinc, molybdenum and vitamins B6, B12 and C), Muscle Water (with magnesium, potassium, selenium, vitamin A and C) and Immune Water (fortified with a complex of antioxidants including vitamins A, C and E) — have no preservatives, artificial coloring or artificial sweeteners, are infused with vitamins and minerals and provide a healthful alternative to sugary, non-nutritious choices.
Mostly, it’s about flavor
In its list of the top 10 flavors for 2009, Bell Flavors & Fragrances (www.bellff.com), Northbrook, Ill., anticipates beverage flavors to keep pushing the envelope of the exotic. By tracking sample requests, global trend scouting and externally sourced data, the company predicts top upcoming flavors could include: yumberry, golden kiwi, lavender, South African peppadew, elderberry, the Asian citrus yuzu, juniper and Meyer lemon.
Hank’s Gourmet Beverages (www.hanksbeverages.com), Trevose, Pa., is an early adopter of the functional carbonated beverages trend. Its Infusions line features “comfort” flavors — Berry, Green Apple, Orange Cream and Root Beer Float — infused with all-natural vitamins B12, C and E sourced from fruits and vegetables; calcium (from skim milk and cream); the powerful green tea extract antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG); and more.
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