The Institute of Food Technologists’ (IFT) Annual Meeting and Food Expo took place in The Big Easy this summer, and attendees were eager to sample some of the latest flavor and ingredient innovations, with a New Orleans twist. From “healthy” Hurricane drinks to orange mango smoothies that helped attendees stay cool in the Louisiana heat, the beverage prototypes exhibited during the event showcased the latest trends in sweeteners, functional ingredients and exotic fruit flavors. Thousands of food scientists, beverage and food suppliers and marketers were on hand at this year’s show to learn about the latest food science and technology developments and to see the newest products. Here’s a look at some of the top flavor, sweetener and functional ingredient trends that are shaping the beverage marketplace right now.
Sweetener innovation continues to be a driving force in the beverage market as consumers seek out healthy, good-tasting drinks but often want reduced or no calories. Datamonitor Product Launch Analytics reports that stevia has gone from a novel new sweetener to a market mainstay. In the past two years, stevia has taken off with Datamonitor reporting a four-fold increase in new beverage products sweetened with stevia in 2010 compared with 2008.
Döhler-Milne Aseptics presented its flavor and sweetener technologies at the show, such as its sugar replacement technology with its MultiSweet stevia sweetener. Reduced-calorie, fortified beverages are a sweet spot of the industry and National Starch and Corn Products International demonstrated this trend with a Vitality Shot drink that offered attendees minerals, Nutriose fiber and vitamins with lower calories thanks to Enliten high intensity Reb A stevia sweetener. In addition, the drink was crystal clear due to the inclusion of Q-Naturale natural emulsifier, the company said.
Cargill put IFT attendees up to a TasteWise challenge to determine which of two lemon-lime soft drinks was the reduced-calorie version. The TasteWise challenge beverage prototype utilized Cargill’s Trilisse blends, which are texturizing blends that optimize mouthfeel so beverage developers can use less sweetener to achieve the same mouthfeel.
Tate & Lyle used the IFT Food Expo to showcase its newest innovative ingredient, Purefruit monk fruit extract, a natural fruit-based, calorie-free sweetener solution. Tate & Lyle recently entered into a five-year strategic partnership with New Zealand-based BioVittoria, a producer and processor of monk fruit, and as part of the partnership, Tate & Lyle has marketing and distributing rights for BioVittoria’s monk fruit extract in the U.S. Attendees got the chance to sample a Spicy Smoothie with 25-percent less sugar than a regular smoothie due to Purefruit, which is 200 times sweeter than sugar.
“Healthy” continues to be a buzzword in the beverage market and consumers are seeking out beverages that offer some health benefit, whether naturally from the ingredients or through the use of added vitamins and minerals. BASF and Cognis, which is now part of BASF, unveiled at the show several beverage prototypes containing a healthy blend of antioxidants to showcase the company’s combined portfolio of nutritional ingredients for food and beverages. For instance, a “healthy” Hurricane offered to attendees included lutein esters, which are believed to benefit eye and skin health, vitamin E for overall health and disease prevention and beta-carotene. As part of its “Newtrition” platform, Cognis also exhibited an Omega Chai Tea containing 100 milligrams of long-chain Omega 3s, called DHA and EPA Omega 3s, which are associated with supporting a healthy heart and vascular system. Research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA Omega 3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary disease and beverage developers increasingly are adding the ingredient to functional beverages. John Gehbauer, marketing manager, Human Nutrition North America, BASF, says the combined nutrition businesses of Cognis and BASF allows for collaborative innovation to offer beverage developers more functional ingredient options that appeal to ongoing health trends.
According to ADM’s Dennis Riddle, demand for quality fiber sources in foods and beverages continues to increase, especially given recent media attention focused on the lack of fiber in the average American diet, and ADM/Matsutani demonstrated the versatility of its Fibersol-2 soluble dietary fiber at the show. A Hurricane-flavored frozen drink offered at the ADM/Matsutani booth had 10 grams of soluble fiber per serving, due to the inclusion of Fibersol-2. Beyond RTD drinks, the company also developed an açai blueberry-flavored sports beverage mix with 5 grams of fiber per serving. Fiber is associated with weight management benefits as it provides satiety, and Fibersol-2 can be added to a range of beverages as it doesn’t impart any added flavor or taste and is transparent in solution, the company says.
Fonterra demonstrated the versatility of its ClearProtein whey protein isolate ingredient in a Hurricane drink that contained 5 grams of protein per serving. According to Teresa Polli, marketing activation manager at Fonterra, the company is focused on helping consumers shift the way they think about protein and to recognize the different usage occasions when protein can be consumed. Also highlighting the role protein plays in weight management, Fonterra offered a peach yogurt smoothie with 26 grams of dairy protein, a high protein beverage that helps to satiate hunger.
During the IFT show, ADM unveiled its Clarisoy vegetable-based protein ingredient designed specifically for use in beverages such as sport and recovery drinks. According to Bruce Bennett, general manager, ADM Specialty Products, Clarisoy is the first transparent soy protein that provides beverage manufacturers with the ability to achieve a FDA “good” or “excellent” source of protein rating in transparent low pH beverages. To demonstrate its potential applications, ADM offered an orange mango smoothie featuring 6 grams of Clarisoy protein.
In the year to come, it will be interesting to see which of these new ingredients and sweetener solutions will break out to become more than just a novel innovation.