Global sales of fortified/functional beverages were projected to reach nearly $40 billion in 2005, according to Euromonitor International. The market is so hot, in fact, that just about every bottler is getting in on the action. The three distinct areas in this ready-to-drink category are health-oriented beverages, fortified smoothies and the so-called energy drinks. Here’s the skinny on each: Health-oriented beverages is a broad category open to any manufacturer who slaps a “healthy” label on a can or bottle. The usual base of fruit juice...
Global sales of fortified/functional beverages were projected to reach nearly $40 billion in 2005, according to Euromonitor International. The market is so hot, in fact, that just about every bottler is getting in on the action.
The three distinct areas in this ready-to-drink category are health-oriented beverages, fortified smoothies and the so-called energy drinks. Here’s the skinny on each:
Health-oriented beverages is a broad category open to any manufacturer who slaps a “healthy” label on a can or bottle. The usual base of fruit juice or tea is fortified with herbs, extracts and other additives ranging from green tea and kava to echinacea, beta carotene, ginko and bee pollen. Whether the various health claims will pass the FDA is another question. Among the many contestants are Snapple Elements (Rain, Earth, etc.), Nantucket Super Nectars, Sobe Power Line, Fuse, Fresh Samantha and Odwalla Nutritionals.
Bottled smoothies, thick, fruit-flavored shakes, are a relatively new category. The base is usually milk, yogurt or soy milk which is often sweetened with fruit juices and fortified with many of the same additives as the health-oriented drinks. Ready-to-drink offerings have grown in tandem with smoothie chains like Juice It Up, Jamba Juice and Orange Julius. Many restaurants are getting into the category by blending up their own versions at the bar. Some of the current bottled offerings are Dannon Frusion, Tropicana Smoothies, Frulatte, Naked Foods, Odwalla Fruit Shakes and Yocream Smoothies.
Energy drinks is an explosive category. These fruity drinks are fueled with plenty of caffeine, plus exotic enhancements such as taurine, ginseng, guarana and mate. Red Bull, one of the first and best-known concoctions, is popular in bars and lounges where it’s mixed into cocktails or served on the side to counteract the effects of alcohol. In keeping with their twenty-something target audience, brands have high-powered monikers like Adrenaline Rush, Ripped to the Max, Rock Star, Crunch, Xtazy, Hype and Sobe Energy. One of the more unusual entrants is Nexcite Niagara Drink, which claims to be Viagra in a bottle. The pricey pour is bright blue and made from an “erotic recipe” of South American herbs, including damiana, yerba mate, schizandra, ginseng and caffeine. “Don’t drink alone,” the package warns.
Pumped up Potions
Many traditional beverages have been given a nutritional—and marketing—boost with vitamins, minerals or other additives. Most of the major orange juice producers now sell OJ enhanced with calcium (the equivalent of a glass of milk) plus Vitamin D. Examples include Tropicana Calcium & Vitamin D and Minute Maid Original & Calcium. Another OJ trend is pumping up the pulp with “Extra Pulp” varieties.
Vegetable juices are usually tomato-based and contain antioxidants like lycopene and lutein. Major players include V8, Motts Clamato and Campbell Tomato Juice. Spicy and even “smoothie” variations are now on the market as well.
What’s in the Additives?
Here’s a primer on the most common enhancers fortifying ready-to-drink juices and energy drinks. Many can also be blended into house-made concoctions.
Bee pollen: Actually this is flower pollen that sticks to bees’ legs as they gather honey. It is the “perfect food,” say promoters, containing all the essentials to boost the immune system and combat fatigue. Caution: it can cause bad allergic reactions in some people.
Calcium: This mineral is key to maintaining strong bones and may ward off high blood pressure.
Echinacea: This North American flower is believed to stimulate the immune system. The jury is still out on its effectiveness.
Ginkgo: The leaves of this ancient tree are purported to improve mental alertness and memory. They also have a blood-thinning effect, which can be dangerous in combination with other drugs.
Ginseng: This plant’s root has long been used by the Chinese as a cure-all, with many benefits attributed to it.
Green/white tea: Proved to be a potent source of antioxidants, these teas may help prevent certain cancers, delay aging and mitigate arthritis.
Guarana: Derived from the fruit of a Brazilian plant, this stimulant goes into many South American soft drinks and is used as a booster in energy drinks.
Kava: A member of the pepper family, an extract of the root is used as a relaxant. The FDA has warned that kava can be toxic to the liver.
Rooibos: Marketed as “red tea,” leaves from this South African bush are loaded with antioxidants but no caffeine.
St. John’s Wort: This perennial is employed as an anti-depressant.
Wheatgrass: The young sprouts boast chlorophyll, amino acids and enzymes that claim to cleanse and rejuvenate the blood.
Yerba Mate: A type of holly that’s usually brewed as hot tea; extracts are appearing in ready-to-drink beverages.