Tuesday, January 15th, 2019
Drinks are no longer just a tasty means of quenching thirst. Today, consumers also demand health and wellness benefits.
As the popularity of sugar-laden carbonated soft drinks declines, the global quest for fortified beverage options is on the rise. An increasing number of people are seeking added health benefits in their liquid food. Instead of increasing consumption of certain foods to achieve specific nutrient intake, a functional drink offers a super-convenient way to achieve a health boost. Futher, because of the increase in the variety of smart packaging options which simplify on-the-go consumption, the popularity of this segment is rapidly evolving. In 2017, the global beverage enhancers market was valued at over 1.5 billion USD, with functional ingredients one of the main market drivers (Mordor Intelligence).
Traditional yet most relevant, tea is a real all-round raw material for the functional segment as it offers numerous benefits. Its leaves are particularly rich in polyphenols, a group of antioxidants associated with the detoxification of cell-damaging free radicals in the body. Additionally, these powerful nutrients are linked to preventive effects and are considered to help the body better protect itself against certain forms of cancer, as well as from inflammation, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. The popularity of tea for health benefits was confirmed at the Beverage Innovation Awards 2017, when the winner in the best functional drink category was a green tea product.
Technology Determines Quality
In order to capture the benefits of tea for a wider range of beverage options, natural tea extracts offer a number of beneficial properties and are an ideal base for delicious drinks with added functionality.
Due to high global demand, the production of tea and tea extracts is mostly industrialised—but often with negative consequences for quality. Frequently, tea extracts are produced by using chloroform, ethanol or other solvents, as they offer high yield and inexpensive processing.
However, Dr. Stefan Siebrecht, Managing Director of Taiyo GmbH, highlights the importance of diligent tea production: “In order to extract all-natural valuable phytonutrients of tea, it is not just the organic pesticide-free tea leaves that are crucial. The technology is equally significant, if not more so. Only the solvent-free, double water infusing brewing process retains the highest possible level of amino acids and polyphenols in tea extracts, and protects the valuable tea phytonutrients.”
Making use of this special technology results in a highly soluble powder that delivers a perfectly rounded, full-flavoured tea taste in hot, cold and ice-cold water without any bitterness. The extracts can also be combined with active ingredients, sweeteners and different flavourings.
Matcha: Packed With Valuable Nutrients
Particularly popular right now are matcha tea extracts. From a nutritional point, matcha is an excellent source of vitamin K, important for maintaining healthy bones and normal blood coagulation. Containing manganese, matcha helps increase “good” cholesterol (HDL) while lowering levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and protects DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage. Looking at the sensory benefits, it is popular for use in beverages as it provides a refreshing flavour.
Rich in polyphenols, vitamins, minerals, fibres, chlorophyll and L-theanine, matcha offers a real potpourri of nutrients. But only when using high quality raw materials which are treated with care, can it deliver its full potential. Here, certificates can be a good aid to choosing ingredients with excellent properties. Taiyo’s True Matcha logo guarantees a raw material with 100 percent purity and processed only following traditional Japanese Matcha tradition.
High Fibre, Low FODMAP
The fibre gap is an ongoing and continuous challenge in developed countries. Although more and more studies confirm numerous health benefits, many people still fail to meet the recommended WHO (World Health Organisation) guidelines of an average daily intake of 30 g for an adult.
However, not all dietary fibres are equally suitable for everyone. Those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or a food intolerance are generally recommended to look for low FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols) products. An innovative soluble powder from Indian guar beans provides prebiotic dietary fibres that are compatible with a low FODMAP diet and also suitable for people with digestive sensitivity. But the target group to be addressed has more potential: According to Julian Mellentin’s 2017 key trend report, this issue may now be of interest for a “small but growing number of people“ and paves the way for novel marketing strategies.
Sunfiber is the first fibre ingredient to become a Monash University Low FODMAP Certified product. Due to its outstanding technical properties, it is perfect for use in beverages. It is water soluble and free from colour and taste, thus it doesn’t influence the sensory profile of drinks. Being 100 percent natural and free from GMO, it contributes to modern consumer demands. When it comes to nutritional aspects, the dietary fibre helps to improve the activity and reproduction rates of beneficial probiotics within the gastrointestinal tract, including Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, which are indispensable for efficient and healthy gut flora and thus for overall health and wellbeing. At the same time, the fibre improves the absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, and reduces “bad” LDL cholesterol. Being stable in different temperatures and pH-values, it can easily be integrated into established recipes. Recently, Sinalco, a German soft drink manufacturer, launched a “better for you” lemonade containing the fibre compound, Sunfiber.
Technology & Know-How
Be it weight management, sports nutrition, skin or immune health—the array of different product positionings is endless. To bring successful beverages to the shelf, tailored concepts for the target group and their specific needs are required, as well as high-quality ingredients that help create a balanced sensory offering. However, health benefits alone may not be enough—when it comes to attracting customers, indulgence is important, too.
A specific challenge in the field of fortified drinks is that not all micronutrients and minerals are easy to incorporate. Minerals, fat-soluble vitamins and coenzymes can be highly reactive and have undesirable side-effects. But with state-of-the-art technologies and a holistic understanding of recipe formulation, suppliers can help support beverage manufacturers in their bid to bring to life products that match consumer demands.
One successful example is Taiyo’s patented and protected Nutrient Delivery System, which has been developed to solve numerous processing issues. It makes water insoluble nutrients readily dispersible in water and increases the absorption, as well as bioavailability, of those nutrients. Production steps include the initial micronisation of nutrients to very fine particles, followed by a specific patented emulsification process. This makes the particles readily dispersible in water to form a stable dispersion. Particle distribution and drying comprise the final step: The particles are homogenously distributed on a carrier that makes the dosing easier and handling trace elements safer. The stability of encapsulated nutrients is improved while reactivity is reduced, allowing for an effective fortification of various beverages and liquid applications.
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