Consumer thirst for immune health
There is growing demand for drinks that offer a benefit for health or wellness—the global functional beverage market is forecast to reach US$158 billion in 2023, growing at a CAGR of 8.08%.1 Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 has fostered interest in beverages with immune health benefits, a space where some brands reportedly saw sales increases of 500% in the early months of 2020.2
Innovation across a range of beverage applications
Immune support innovation is taking place across a range of beverage categories:
Shots are great vehicles to deliver a boost to immunity, energy, or both. Juice shots, launches of which have grown by 28% in Europe over the past three years4, are particularly popular in the category. Common active ingredients in immunity shot products include ginger, turmeric, berries, vitamins, and minerals.
Growing awareness of the relationship between a healthy gut and a healthy immune system is driving interest in probiotic beverages that make both immune and digestive health claims. Sources of probiotics include kombucha, which remains a highly on-trend ingredient in beverages.5
It is increasingly common for functional or ‘enhanced’ waters and sports nutrition drinks to offer benefits beyond hydration, and immune health is one of the areas companies are focusing on when they launch fortified beverages.
Trending ingredients for immunity
During the pandemic, consumers have searched for products containing ingredients supported by both traditional usage and a body of scientific evidence. Trending ingredients for immune health beverages include:
One of the best-known Indian botanicals, ashwagandha is supported by thousands of years of use and by science, with studies showing that it can increase the body’s white blood cells, helping boost immunity.6 Hailed as the ’adaptogen of the hour,‘ ashwagandha is increasingly common in herbal teas, RTD products, and other functional beverages.7
Shagandha™ is an ashwagandha root extract 2.5% designed to meet the US Pharmacopoeia-National Formulary (USP-NF) monograph, as confirmed by Alkemist Labs.
Beverages infused with amla have been consumed for health for centuries, and it is one of the most popular immune health ingredients in India, where it commonly appears in herbal teas.8
Saberry®, a proprietary amla extract, is a powerful antioxidant and a great source of vitamin C. In a 2009 study, it was found to help regulate inflammatory response and increase resistance to infection.9 Being water-soluble, Saberry® can be conveniently incorporated into various beverage applications, including fruit juices
A wide range of vitamins and minerals have EFSA-approved claims for immune system function. Across all categories, 14% of new product launches with an immune health claim also have a ‘vitamin and mineral-fortified' claim.10 Beverage companies have been formulating with vitamins and minerals for years, and over half (52%) of global launches of energy drinks now feature added vitamin/mineral claims.11
One of the minerals currently trending in beverages is selenium, which reduces inflammation. Selenium SeLECT® is a unique single chemical entity containing selenium in place of sulphur in the molecule of the essential amino acid methionine. It can be used in a variety of beverage applications, including teas and waters.
Nigella sativa—known as ‘black seed’ or ‘black cumin’—is a medicinal seed believed to have offered healing powers for over 3,000 years. Today, it continues to feature in teas and other immunity-boosting beverages. Its main active ingredient is thymoquinone, which has been reported to reduce proinflammatory cytokine activity, with benefits for immune system support.12
Nigellin® BCS is a Nigella sativa extract standardised to contain thymoquinone, thymohydroquinone, and hederagenin.
Demand now, and in the future
By the end of 2020, the number of global food and drink launches with immune health positioning had grown to 1.65% (from just 1% five years earlier).13 With the effects of the pandemic predicted to linger for years, or even decades, to come, there is good reason to believe that demand for beverages with immune health benefits will continue long into the future.
The most innovative beverage brands are embracing fortification with on-trend immune health ingredients as a strategy for differentiation. At Prinova, we can support brands at every stage of the beverage development process, not just with high-quality ingredients and customisable nutrient premixes and blends, but also expert insights into this exciting category.