Trending Flavors in Functional Beverages

Consumers are increasingly drawn to the health benefits available through functional beverages. Although the “gut health” and “functional foods” phenomenon has impacted the all aspects of the menu — the beverage category holds the biggest opportunity for flavor innovation. This blends the beverage industry with vitamins and supplements, allowing nutrient dense ingredients such as kale and turmeric find a natural home. According to Market Research Future, the global functional beverages market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 6.3% from 2018 to 2023. Future Market Insights identifies North America as the largest market, followed by Asia-Pacific and Europe, with strong future growth expected in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. While the largest segments of functional beverages are sports and energy drinks, fruit and vegetable juices, teas, coffees, functional dairy and dairy alternative beverages, and waters have become part of the growing category.

No flavor recreation comes without its challenges and that is true of the creation of functional beverages. Overcoming the unpleasant or bitter taste of functional ingredients requires flavorists to utilize masking agents. Citrus flavors come in many different varieties. Part of the appeal of citrus flavors stems from the fact that they have an exotic edge, unlike most of the other flavors that people encounter on a regular basis. Citrus flavors provide sweetness as well as a tart component to a number of products. While there are countless citrus flavors for flavorists to choose from, this year, citrus flavors are set to dominate the market. Flavors like orange, clementine, kaffir lime, lemon, grapefruit and calamansi are the most promising citrus flavors we can expect to see in functional beverages this year.


The hot and spicy flavor of cayenne makes it a particular favorite for many consumers, and cayenne flavor – such as that produced by natural chili pepper (cayenne) essence and organic cayenne pepper extract – is used in a number of applications. Cayenne flavor is a common component in many beverages, often times in conjunction with fruit flavors like mango or lime. Chili, habanero and jalapeno are other pepper flavors expected to represent an inventive and use of traditional ingredients.


Floral flavors have long been a favorite, but one of the more difficult tasks for flavorists has always been accurately capturing the natural flavor of these delicate botanicals. Innovations in the flavor industry have made flavor ingredients such as natural isojasmone and natural hibiscus extract liquid possible, which provide a much more accurate – and much more flavorful – version of floral flavor for use in products ranging from functional juice blends, enhanced waters to energy drinks.