Functional Beverages Hit a New Stride

Published in CSP Daily News

Category “growing at a faster pace than all other products”

NEW YORK -- As more consumers—and consumer-product manufacturers—focus on health and wellness, the functional-beverage category is seeing a boost in sales and attention, according to a Food Business News report.

Dollar sales for the category of ready-to-drink “wellness and functional” beverages grew 3.9% from 2011 to 2012, making it a $65.3 billion category, according to the Beverage Marketing Corp., New York. The entire $143.5 billion ready-to-drink beverage sector increased only 2.4%.

“We aggregated products with health and wellness attributes and compared them to all others,” said Gary Hemphill, managing director of research for the B.M.C. “Products with strong health and wellness attributes are outperforming the market. They are growing at a faster pace than all other products.”

Hemphill said the category of health and wellness beverages is a broad classification and somewhat subjective, according to the report. However, for the most part, one attribute that most of the beverages have in common is the inclusion of antioxidants, either in the form of a whole food, usually a juice, or an added nutrient, such as a plant extract or vitamin.

The report highlighted some newer beverages that focus on antioxidants:

  • Bai Brands L.L.C., Hamilton, N.J., markets Bai 5, a line of natural, 5-calorie, antioxidant-infused beverages. The beverages are infused with coffee fruit, also known as coffee berry.

The Bai 5 beverages are flavored with fruit juices and sweetened with a blend of erythritol and stevia. Varieties include Brasilla blueberry, Congo pear, Costa Rica clementine, Ipanema pomegranate, Limu lemon, Malawi mango, Molokai coconut, Panama peach and Sumatra dragonfruit.

  • KonaRed Corp., Kalaheo, Hawaii, makes a namesake beverage that also uses coffee fruit. The company specifically uses coffee fruit grown in Kona, Hawaii, that is processed using the company’s proprietary technology.

“We are witnessing a dramatic surge of growth in the health and wellness segment of consumer products,” said Shaun Roberts, president of KonaRed. In addition to the KonaRed Hawaiian Superfruit Antioxidant Juice beverages, the company also markets a powder that may be mixed into the consumer’s liquid or food of choice.

  • A new juice-based drink called Youthy Forever, which is distributed by Brands Within Reach, New York, features grape-seed extract. Debuting just in time for New Year’s resolutions, Youthy Forever combines pear, pineapple, passion fruit and prickly pear juices. Each 8-oz. serving contains 30 mg of resveratrol and 40 mg of grape seed extract.