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Plant Power in Western European Functional Beverages

22 July 2021 by Anna Ward & Ilaria Abagnale, Euromonitor International

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Complexity is an increasingly important feature of the functionality trend in beverages. Widely recognised botanicals such as chamomile, while still important, are being complemented by other ingredients of plant origin that are currently less well-known in Western Europe.

Brands are targeting a range of precise need states, covering various usage occasions. Indulgence is still key in many drinks categories, and the new approach to wellbeing focuses on a holistic approach to what a product can offer, rather than just what is missing (sugar or alcohol for example).

Evolution of ingredients

Botanicals and fungi with adaptogenic properties are not new. Many ingredients, such as goji berry or American ginseng, aimed at enhancing concentration and calmness, have been used in traditional remedies and dietary supplements for years. They are now increasingly found in actual food and beverages in Western Europe.

Beverage manufacturers are proactively leveraging plant-based ingredients which have huge creative potential in meeting evolving functional needs and targeting personal health. These ingredients are being used to straddle several need states.

Table ingredientsSource: Euromonitor International

Innovation has also been spurred by the use of relatively new ingredients, such as algae – although to date only a limited number of microalgae species are approved under the strict food use regulations (Novel Food regulation in the EU).

Cannabidiol (CBD) products are moving into the mainstream in many Western European markets, while THC and other cannabinoids hold potential for the future (as and when regulatory changes allow).

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