Energy Drinks Take Aim at Busy Consumers

Consumers are flocking to energy drinks in an attempt to feel better about nutrition while maintaining our 21st Century fast-paced lifestyle.

By Mark Anthony, Ph.D., and David Feder, R.D., Technical Editors

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Litel points to Gum Technology's Coyote Brand XC-0508 as a creamy fat mimic that adds viscosity, suspension and texture to beverages such as low-calorie smoothies. It's cold-soluble and protein reactive.

"When creating a vitamin- and antioxidant-rich nutritional drink, a blend of xanthan, gum arabic and carrageenan (Coyote Brand XAC-0810) emulsifies and suspends the ingredients while also adding a creamy mouthfeel," she adds. "And in instant protein drinks, a blend of xanthan and carrageenan (Coyote Brand XC-0409) provides texture and suspension that allows for fast hydration, while creating creaminess."

The eye has it
With a crowded market for energy beverages, eye-appeal is vital. Just think of the impact of an energy drink that was clear instead of, say, vivid red.

"The last 10 years have seen great advances in emulsion and microemulsion technology," says Campbell Barnum, vice president of branding & market development for D.D. Williamson (www.ddwilliamson.com), Louisville, Ky. "This allows for an expansion of the natural color spectrum and an increased potential for use of natural colors in a variety of applications. It's also reduced the cost. And if you're out to build healthier drinks with eye-catching appeal, it's important to make certain the coloring agent is consistent with the quality the natural ingredients convey."

Sometimes the colorant can actually boost the healthy profile of the product. "Many of our natural colorants are rich in healthful phytochemicals," says Glen Dreher, a D.D. Williamson application scientist. "For coloring purposes, however, the concentrations are generally too low to have a functional nutrition impact. The exception to the rule is beta-carotene, which can be in high enough concentrations to have a dual role, providing natural color and a vitamin A health claim in some applications."

The company's beta-carotene is truly natural as opposed to synthetic beta-carotene (although both products fall under the same CFR listing in the U.S.). The natural color pallette spans a complete range of hues from lycopene at the red end of the visible spectrum to anthocyanins at the blue-violet end. Anthocyanins are the dark blue pigments that give concord grapes and many berries their color and personality.

Working with natural colors can present a challenge because some may be affected by temperature, pH or even time. "Not all colors are the same," says Jason Armao, director of application and innovation for the company. "They have different properties in different applications, so it's important for the provider to work closely with customers to determine the appropriate balance for each situation. Blends may be used to achieve exactly the right the color. For example, beta carotene may be modified with annatto, paprika, or turmeric."

Whatever the color of your power beverage, it's clear the expanding varieties of energy ingredients are providing ample opportunity for processors to rev up sales as they rev up their customers.

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