When it comes to healthy drinks, water alone doesn’t cut it for consumers’ tastes. Instead, powdered and bottled beverages offer a quick yet often indulgent way to get the nutrients they need or the functional health benefits they crave.

From kombucha offering claims to support gut health to flavored powders for water that can provide potential immunity or energy benefits, consumers have a variety of options to choose from. These beverage options overlap with a number of Symrise’s North America flavor trends for 2020, such as the rise of low and alcohol-free drinks, fermentation, naturalness and more.

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As research firm Mintel finds, younger consumers and busy parents help drive the consumption of powdered and bottled beverages, as they look for quick ways to be healthy and seek added functional benefits, whether that’s trying to sleep better, feel calmer or try to protect themselves from getting sick.

In fact, from September 2019 to May 2020, the number of US consumers looking for functional benefits from food and beverage skyrocketed from 37% to 51%, finds research firm Tastewise.

What Types of Powdered and Bottled Beverages Do Consumers Want?

Past trends such as weight-loss drinks are being replaced by those that support areas like mental well-being. According to Tastewise, year-over-year data on functions across food shows that interest in comfort is up by 74%, gut health has grown by 41% and stress relief has increased 14%. Meanwhile, interest in weight loss is down 4% and fitness is down 9%.

The good news for beverage brands and those looking to create their own concoctions is that these areas of functionality can be added or promoted within most drinks. So while soda, for example, has grown at a slower pace than beverages like energy drinks, as Mintel’s analysis finds, soft drink brands can tap into these trends and add wholesome, energizing ingredients. Consumers often desire natural ingredients that could potentially provide a calmer source of energy than just increasing caffeine intake, such as with yerba mate or ginseng.

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Plus, the growing demand for functionality means that consumers aren’t necessarily tied to specific types of drinks but rather seek out those which promote health and well-being at a price they’re comfortable with. As Mintel finds, 84% of consumers ages 25-34 have had a beverage in the past three months with at least one of the following benefit claims:

● Anti-aging
● Anti-inflammatory
● Beauty enhancing
● Calming/relaxing
● Cognitive support
● Digestion support
● Energizing
● Hydrating
● Immune boosting
● Sleep enhancing

Mintel also finds that consumers more often want drinks with two to three benefits, rather than just one, so beverages that can combine functional ingredients could stand out.

For example, kombucha has been booming in recent years, offering a way to enjoy fun flavors and often relatively low calories. Yet instead of just offering fruit or herb flavors, some brands are starting to use functional adjectives on their packaging and marketing to try to attract consumers looking for a drink that not only can potentially boost digestion but also improve your mood or immunity, for instance.

Functional Powdered and Bottled Beverages in the Age of COVID-19

While much of the interest in functional beverages precedes COVID-19, the pandemic could cause consumers to seek out more drinks that claim to support immunity and mental well-being during these difficult times. Meanwhile, as Mintel notes, emerging ingredients like CBD could start to fade for price-conscious consumers, whereas more familiar and perhaps affordable ingredients like chamomile could thrive.

As the economy recovers, consumers could be more willing to experiment with higher-end beverages that promote functional benefits in novel ways. For now, however, look for consumers to be a bit more price sensitive and choose beverages that feature wholesome, natural ingredients that they trust.

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