New Beverage Development Eyes Functional Food Trend

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Food technologist reviews newest beverage innovations.

Consumer demand for healthful foods and beverages is on the rise in the US. New beverage development utilizing scientific discoveries of specific ingredients can produce specific functions that provide a health benefit to the consumer. These ingredients have led to innovative beverage development that seems to garner much attention from the consumer.

Functional foods and beverages contain specific ingredients that strive to enhance a specific physical or mental function. Functions can be as broadly defined as smart drinks, energy drinks or beverages that can promote overall wellness.

New beverage development is becoming more of a creative art form these days. Developing beverages that have many functions take an extreme amount of experience in not only the beverage industry, but the nutraceutical industry as well.

Expert industry consultant and beverage technologist Pete Maletto of PTM Food Consulting talks about the latest functional beverage trends and how the consumer will react to new innovations he's applying in new beverage development utilizing his experience in the nutraceutical industry.

The energy drink trend is one that seems to be riding an upward trend, but that may soon level off. "Energy drinks are now starting to receive a negative reaction as some consumers worry about the high levels of caffeine in these beverages. Energy drinks may contain as much as 200 mg of caffeine per can, the equivalent to a very large cup of coffee. Compared to the 65 mg. of caffeine in a Mountain Dew, or the 55 mg. in a Coca-Cola, that's a huge jump. Many consumers are starting to see the side effects from too much caffeine in these beverages such as a rapid rise in heart rate and blood pressure (sometimes to the point of palpitations). Abuse can also wreck havoc on the central nervous system from the increase in stress, dehydrate the body, and, like other stimulants, prevent sleep." said Pete Maletto

Maletto has utilized innovations in amino acid technology in energy drinks and dietary supplements he has developed, which can allow lower levels of caffeine, but provide the same kick to the consumer without doing as much damage to the central nervous system and minimizing side effects.

Other upcoming trends are beverages that can provide a lift to the user, without caffeine, such as smart drinks or even beverages that can enhance sex functions. "The category should see a branch off of energy drinks into other functions consumers in the same age demographic can feel, such as hangover prevention, sex drive, and even drinks that can improve memory and mental focus. We have several innovative formulations we are currently developing and everyone is raving about how well they actually work. Imagine drinking a beverage that actually provides an increase in sex drive about twenty minutes after consumption." said Maletto

Other trends in new beverage development are those that contain high levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals. Consumers know these nutrients as the common vitamins A, C, E, and the minerals selenium and zinc. But more recently, another class of antioxidants is taking center stage. These antioxidants are known as phytochemicals, which are natural organic compounds found in plants, fruits and super foods.

"Green tea has been the leading antioxidant beverage that has seen mainstream acceptance, but new super foods are coming this way. These include very powerful antioxidant super foods that can come from berries such as Wolfberry, Acai, Blueberry, Raspberry and Bilberry and they have the highest antioxidant capacity of any fruit. Pomegranate juice is the first product that has become very popular pushing these antioxidant health benefits and the increased popularity with the juice has been phenomenal. From a beverage development standpoint we are now looking at infusing these products with even higher concentrations of the natural occurring phytochemicals to provide an even greater consumer health benefit," said Maletto.


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