Multifunctional is the word

It seems that the latest thing in the world of beverages for 2013 is multifunctionality. It is becoming rarer to find product launches with just one function. It seems that, as we multitask more, we are also expecting the products we consume to do likewise.
For example, protein drinks have seen tremendous growth in recent years but now protein alone is becoming old hat but protein + fibre has been shown to boost satiety and help people meet their daily fibre requirement and therefore is more desirable that protein alone.
Another relatively new occurance is the addition of whole grains to beverage products. For example Sambazon’s Blended Breakfast drink, flavored with strawberry and banana, is made not only with it’s familiar acai but with fiber, gluten-free amaranth and quinoa and chia all added too.
Naturally, creating multi-functionality also builds complexity in terms of formulation. Consult-Us LLC can help you develop your multifunctional products. Just give us a call or drop us a line


Consumer concerns about health and wellness, coupled with a continued uncertain economic future, will set the stage for ongoing food and beverage trends to be stretched to their full potential in 2012 as both industry and consumers tighten their belts on spending and investments, according to new market research from Leatherhead Food Research.

Check out the following 10 food and beverage trends predicted to make an impact in 2012:

Health and Wellness. Key priorities for companies include the continued efforts to meet guidelines on the reduction of salt, fat and sugar, as well as the active promotion of health benefits on products ranging from “one of your five a day” to more niche areas as the inclusion of functional ingredients.
Sustainability. There is a continued focus from companies on issues of sustainability and this is likely to be an influential trend for many years to come as companies work to streamline their practices and supply chains into more sustainable operations. This encompasses a whole range of issues, including packaging-reduction initiatives, more ethical sourcing policies, reduction of food miles and more.
Convenience. While we’re engaging with food more than ever, our busy, chaotic lifestyles simply will not allow elaborate home-cooked meals during the work week. The development of new “ready meal” concepts in the form of meal kits and premium offerings also ensure that choice and quality of prepared meals are like never before.
Flavor Solutions. Compensating for lower levels of salt, fat and/or sugar will continue to increase the need for more flavorful solutions. Combinations of herbs, spices and other strong flavors will provide a flavorful backdrop to many products. Think of ingredient combinations such as lemongrass, garlic and ginger or the use of seaweed as a salt enhancer. Also look for more adventurous and “premium” flavor combinations like lavender in dark chocolate.
“Free From” Foods Market. There is a growing number of consumers who do not have a diagnosed food allergy but believe their general health improves with the omission of certain foodstuffs from their diet. This presents an opportunity for both mainstream manufacturers to highlight additional product benefits as well as allowing the traditional “free from” brands to break the niche mold within which they’ve traditionally operated.
Ongoing Demand for Natural. While the hype around the natural trend has dampened slightly, the effects are ongoing particularly as larger multinationals weigh up the cost/benefit of switching to natural components such as colors and flavors. However, companies need to consider issues such as the sustainability of supply as well as the longevity of consumer demand in their particular product area (e.g. those product categories with inherent natural associations are likely to remain in demand).
Budget-Conscious Want Affordable Luxuries. Unrelenting pressure on household budgets will see retailers continue to flex their “value for money” credentials; therefore, manufacturers will continue their efforts to seek cost-effective solutions. Conversely, food is seen as an affordable luxury and, therefore, lucrative opportunities do exist in the form of “staying in” solutions, such as meal kits, and more premium offerings.
Quality Linked to Location. Consumers are more keenly aware of where their foods are produced and sourced and this will continue to impact the food and beverage market in two ways. First, the demand toward locally produced and locally sourced fresh food, including meat, vegetables, fruit, cheese, etc. will continue into 2012. The restaurant industry is seeing activities such as foraging and sourcing of specialty ingredients grow exponentially as chefs seek to differentiate their menus. Second, more exotic ingredients such as Madagascan vanilla also will benefit from an overt provenance message. The clear message is that location helps to give consumers a distinct impression of the product’s quality.
Over 55 and Fitter Than Ever. Longer working lives and a strong interest in maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle is leading to the creation of more products tailored to the specific needs and wants of these consumers. Health benefits will be at the forefront of the market and this will be a key area of development for the functional ingredients market in particular.
Softer Claims. The ever-changing regulatory environment is having a strong impact in the way manufacturers are positioning their products. For example, EFSA regulations have taken the shine off the functional health market and the cost/benefit tradeoff of substantiated EFSA claims is unlikely to provide a strong competitive edge in most cases. Instead, manufacturers will continue to seek out a softer approach to deliver key messages to their consumers.

Source: Leatherhead Food Research

So How Organic is Organic?????

The term “organic” and it’s use on food labels in the USA is governed by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) under it’s National Organic Program (NOP). Under the labeling guidelines of the NOP, there are several “levels” of organic.

    100% Organic:

All ingredients are certified organic. Finished product can display the USDA Organic Seal


95% of the finished product’s ingredients must be certified organic. Remaining 5% of ingredients must be organic suitable but not necessarily certified. Finished product can display the USDA Organic Seal

    Made with Organic Ingredients

70% of the finished product ingredients are certified organic. Up to three organic ingredients may be called out on the principal display panel and organic ingredients are identified as such in the ingredient statement. Finished product cannot display the USDA Organic Seal.

    Contains Organic Ingredients

Less than 70% of ingredients are organic. These products may not use the word organic anywhere on the principal display panel except that organic ingredients may be called identified as such in the ingredient statement. Finished product cannot display the USDA Organic Seal anywhere on it’s label.

All labels which display the USDA organic seal are supposed to be submitted to the USDA for approval so that if you are looking to shop “organic” look for the seal and you can buy with confidence.

The Growth of Organics

It used to be the case that if you wanted to eat (and drink) organic, you would have to visit a store like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Now there is a much broader range of organic products available in a much broader range of outlets – so are we really moving towards organic products or is it just a short-lived trend? I guess the answer to this question really depends on who you ask.
For the vast majority of the American public “Organic” is not a selling point that really interests them. For these consumers it is cost alone that drives their buying habits. Given the choice between buying store brand apple juice and a more expensive organic version, the cheaper store brand will win hands down.
There is however a relatively small but growing portion of the population who are willing to pay the premium demanded for organic products. For these consumers the absence of pesticides and growth hormones in organic products is more important than the price. I don’t see these people changing their minds about the importance of buying organic so it’s a trend that’s here to stay in my opinion.

Of course, there are varying degrees of “organic-ness” which will have an effect on the price of a product. We’ll take a look at those in the next installment……..

New Year, New Trends?

As we begin a new year I got to wondering a couple of things. Firstly, How did it get to be 2011 already??? and secondly, Are there any new trends this year in the beverage world?

The first question being somewhat rhetorical, let’s look at the second.
My feeling on this one is that there really isn’t anything terribly new but that this year’s trends are merely extensions of last year’s.
As it has been for a few years now, Health and Wellness is again the Big Brother of all macro trends, overshadowing all others. As part of this Macro trend we are seeing products that are being marketed as better for you – buzzwords like “natural” and “pure” are everywhere. Consumers are looking for natural flavors, natural colors, natural sweeteners. Beverages with ingredients for weight loss are becoming more plentiful on the shelves; protein for satiety is a big one this year as it was last year, likewise green tea for metabolism boosting. Another expanding category seems to be the “beauty in a bottle” products. These are beverages that contain ingredients that are supposed to make our skin healthier looking and more radiant. We seem to love the idea that we can drink something that will make us skinnier, prettier and healthier.

From a flavor perspective, tropical flavors seem to be popular this year with many flavor companies predicting a rise in demand for “out-there exotics” such as Camu-camu and yumberry. I imagine we will see these appearing alongside familiar old favorites such as strawberry and blueberry to make them a little less “out there”. That seems to be the easiest way to grow acceptance for unfamiliar flavors. When Pomegranate first emerged a few years ago it was very often blended with familiar flavor friends until we began to be accept it alone.

The most popular new kid on the block last year seemed to be coconut water and we can expect to see it become ever more widely included in new products this year, despite last years supply hiccups. Look for new products from the big guys with coconut water included.

As far as beverage forms go the shot continues to be king and I really don’t see that changing in 2011 very much.

So, there you have it, all in all, just some minor tweaks on last years trends.

What’s not in there is almost as important as what is

In recent years there has been a trend in the food industry towards health and wellness. Consumers are more savvy than ever with regard to the nutritional content of their foods and beverages. However in the past 5 years or so a new type of product has emerged. One that predominantly touts not what added beneficial ingredients are contained in the product but what (perceived) harmful ingredients it does not contain. It is what I call the “free from” or “does not contain” category. In fact during the period 2003 to 2007 there was a 103% increase in food products and a 48% increase in beverage products which were making these kinds of claims – eg Trans Fat Free, Contains no artificial flavors or colors, Made from milk from cows that have not been treated with rBST. I especially like that last one as it provides an additional degree of separation. It makes you wonder how far these claims will eventually go – there’s surely a much larger list of things that are NOT in a food or beverage product than things that are. How about “contains no petroleum products from the gulf oil spill” or “manufactured without the use of bail-out money”
Guess it really does all come down to marketing.
Food for thought

Industry News – Pepsi & GNC have united with “Phenom”

PURCHASE, N.Y. and PITTSBURGH, Nov. 8, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — PepsiCo, Inc. (NYSE: PEP), one of the world’s largest food and beverage businesses, and GNC, the nation’s leading specialty retailer of nutritional products for the active consumer, today announced they have signed a joint venture agreement to develop and sell fortified coconut water products under the newly created Phenom brand name. The products are expected to be available during the second quarter of 2011 at GNC locations nationwide and on exclusively prior to a wider release in other leading retail outlets in the United States.

The Phenom joint venture follows the successful retail launch of PepsiCo’s Gatorade G Series Pro at GNC stores in May 2010.

The Phenom (pronounced fee-nom) line will address the growing demands of health-conscious consumers for natural products that help them with their daily regimen.

This brand further demonstrates PepsiCo’s unwavering commitment to innovation around the evolving needs of consumers – with a particular focus on health and wellness.

“Phenom is perfectly positioned at the intersection of health and wellness and natural hydration,” said Massimo D’Amore, CEO of PepsiCo Beverages Americas. “This is an exciting new phase of our relationship with GNC. As our partner, they are a strong brand and provide well recognized capabilities in the health and wellness space. Phenom will leverage these strengths in combination with PepsiCo’s scale and leading coconut water know-how. We see a bright future for the Phenom initiative, by meeting the growing needs of US consumers with a great-tasting beverage.”

Coconut water is a natural electrolyte beverage. Formed naturally inside the shells of coconuts, it is also low in fat and calories and is a good source of Vitamin C and heart healthy potassium.

PepsiCo has been expanding its presence in the health and wellness sector – most recently with the announcement of its Global Nutrition Group – and this joint venture with GNC marks another important step in that direction.

“This is the first time GNC has joined forces with a leader in the food and beverage industry to introduce a new line of products, and we are delighted to have PepsiCo as our partner,” said Joe Fortunato, CEO of GNC. “Coconut water has been recognized as one of the fastest growing categories in the beverage industry, and we believe this joint venture represents an exciting opportunity to launch a fortified and differentiated line of coconut water products. We believe the combination of PepsiCo’s strong capabilities in the global consumer beverage market with GNC’s vitamin and mineral capabilities will uniquely position the Phenom brand of coconut water in the health and wellness market.”


What exactly is a “Functional Food” anyway? by Deirdre Piggott

Someone from outside the industry asked me this question the other day and it got me thinking. Surely ALL foods are functional in that they provide us with some of the nutrients we need to live. The term Functional Food first emerged in the early 1980′s in Japan (This term was later dropped in 1993 in favor of the term FOSHU – Foods for Specified Health Use). Originally foods were made “functional” by the boosting of a single vitamin or mineral in an existing product – eg the addition of Vitamin C to beverages or of iron to bread. As that route proved to be a successful one we began to see a broadening of ingredients added to boost the nutritional profile of food and beverage products. Many foods had nutrients added to prevent deficiencies that were being found in the average diet – eg Folic acid was added to bread, iodine was added to salt.
Now however we have moved on from those basic days to an era when we are adding natural compounds to a wide range of food and beverage products to provided benefits beyond just preventing deficiencies. Whereas in the past you were likely to see the term “probiotic” in the Health Food aisle now it can appear anywhere in the grocery store. Now many consumers are more likely to buy a product that it more “functional” rather than a similar one that appears to pack no extra nutritional punch. We are actively seeking food items that will help keep our hearts healthy, our bones strong, out guts regular, our hair shiny etc. Of course the recent recession has had an impact and we have seen a reduction in the introduction of new functional products. generally because functional foods tend to cost more than traditional foods.
Economic woes notwithstanding, we seem to have made a mind-shift and now regard our food not only as something we need for sustenance but rather as something that can improve our overall state of health and well-being.

Walking the Tightrope

Balancing Flavor and Functionality in Nutritional Beverages
by Deirdre Piggott

Or View the PDF Walking the Tightrope

One of my kids’ favorite things to do on their Wii Fit is to walk the tightrope. It’s a game that tests your balance. It takes a few minutes, but you soon get the hang of walking the rope. Just when you’re starting to get confident and think, ‘This isn’t so hard,” something we call a “chopper” appears. It’s a gnashing set of metal teeth that tries to bite you and knock you off the rope. The key is to carefully jump over the chopper while still maintaining enough balance to stay on the rope. Developing a functional beverage can sometimes feel like a similar exercise. As with the Wii Fit, start with the fundamentals (the initial steps up to and onto the rope) and work up from there.

The first step is to determine what function the product should have. Will it be an energy drink, a skin therapy drink, etc.? What form will it take (e.q., liquid, powder)? How will it be processed – cold filled (preserved) or hot filled (HTST/UHT/Retort)? Once these decisions have been made, it’s time to figure out what functional ingredients should be added. And then determining the inclusion levels for all ingredients; which ones should be at a functional level or if it serves the purpose for some of them to be at a lower than functional level merely to get them onto the ingredient statement. This process takes patience and a fair amount of discussion between marketing and R&D.

A plethora of functional ingredients are available industrially, many of which are available in different forms. It is important to always start with a form that will work in the base. For example, an oil-soluble extract will not work in a water-based product. When talking with suppliers, specify the need for a water-soluble version of each ingredient if it is going to end up in a RTD beverage. Powdered extracts can work well in liquid applications; but, again let the supplier know the extract must dissolve in water, as not all of them do.

Once the decisions have been made and ingredients ordered, you’re poised to step onto the rope. Now the real balancing act begins. As with any beverage system, there is a need to balance sweetness, acidity and flavor. For example, a strawberry flavor will not come through effectively if there’s not enough sweetness; a lemon flavor won’t taste lemon-y without a good dose of citric acid behind it to make it bright; and using stevia instead of sucralose can require an increased amount of added flavor, as stevia can alter the flavor profile quite significantly.

All of this balancing can be equated to walking on the tightrope; but what about that “chopper”?

In a nutritional/functional beverage, “the chopper” is often the ingredients that make the product functional. There is a mindboggling array of functional ingredients available, ranging from the mundane (salt) to the strange (horny goat weed). Each one can have an effect on a product’s overall balance. Salt obviously gives, well, saltiness; many herbs can impart a dry, earthy note; taurine, which is routinely used in energy drinks, gives what I call a “wet dog” flavor; cayenne which is used in some cleansing type products, brings a spicy heat. As a case study, consider one popular ingredient that is causing some balance problems for formulators: stevia.

Stevia is a newly approved (for food and beverage use) natural sweetener. Many beverage companies are looking to substitute stevia for sucralose or aspartame in current “light .. offerings or nutritive sweeteners in full sugar products; they’re finding it’s not as simple as merely swapping one ingredient for another. For example, replacing sucralose in a cranberry-flavored product with stevia loses the essential “cranberry-ness” of the flavor. The flavor carries through strangely because there is little to no up-front sweetness associated with stevia. This can necessitate the addition of a small amount of fructose or sucrose to bring back that up-front sweetness. This may be undesirable if the idea is to eliminate as many calories as possible from the product

Formulators must also contend with stevia’s licorice taste and cooling effect. Several flavor houses have launched stevia masking flavors; but, they may or may not be effective in any given base. Because stevia affects different flavors in different ways, there is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Even with the sweetness balanced and the off-notes masked somewhat, there’s still an overall reduction in flavor, which means a need to increase the flavor level, thus adding cost. In addition, there may be a loss of tartness and dryness that must be compensated for by adding tannic and citric acids.

Actually, come to think of it, replacing other sweeteners with stevia is more like an advanced type of tightrope walking, one in which you have to jump over the “choppers” whilst juggling several more gnashing metal sets of teeth. It can certainly be done; but, you’re not going to nail it overnight. Take your time and be careful. Oh, and watch out for those teeth!

Creative Beverage Consultant – Consult Us LLC

Consult-Us LLC is a beverage consulting company focused on listening to customer’s
needs and providing creative customized solutions to those needs.

While an area of focus is on liquid and dry beverage development, an important resource
that we bring to the table is in the area of innovation and ideation. With many businesses
moving towards an “open innovation” model, we can assist with both innovative ideation
and concept development.

We understand that the Beverage segment is an important growth area for the food
ingredient business and we have a proven track record in building successful “start-up”
beverage capabilities at a number of established companies. We can also help you grow
an existing beverage effort by providing an on-call, as needed development resource.

Companies who work with us save substantially on the overhead costs associated with
a comparable full-time hire, yet they receive all of the benefits of having an expert
beverage developer on their team.