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Wellness Flavors: How health-inspired flavor choices will define the future of beverage formulation
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Wellness Flavors: How health-inspired flavor choices will define the future of beverage formulation

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Wellness is where it’s at in the beverage world, with increased consumer demand for functional drinks ramping up production and innovation from players both established and new. Everyone wants a piece of that predicted 7 percent CAGR. A battle of the benefits has resulted, with brands vying for attention by leveling up from functional to multifunctional (or, as Forbes​ puts it, hyper​-functional), offering more of a does-it-all drink. Flavors are also working double time, not only acting as a differentiator but also as a means to reinforce all benefits messaging.

At Virginia Dare, we’re seeing three particularly promising arenas in wellness within what we’ve dubbed Moodfluencers, Body Boosters, and Beautifiers. As more brands churn out beverage options within these segments, flavors are poised to become a major deciding factor for consumers, working to provide stand-out taste and reinforce relevant benefit messaging.   

Moodfluencer Function & Flavor Trends

Mood enhancers, relaxers, improvers – if it has inherent therapeutic properties, it’s a win. Products with adaptogens, botanicals, and functional fruits that support mental acuity, mindfulness, and sleep are what consumers are seeking out.

The 3.7 percent growth within the energy drink​ segment is proof of that, with shoppers looking for more natural means to boost their activity levels. On the flip side – and what may even be spurring the energy sector’s growth – we’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep. A recent PwC Health Research Institute survey​ said 40 percent of participants have a tough time “switching off” at the end of the day. Enter relaxation beverages to help put us to bed.

Modern wellness brands will seek to flavor their relaxing and invigorating drinks with inspired taste profiles based on the therapeutic properties of included ingredients to provide enhanced aromatic taste cues.

Flavor Focus

A few standout flavor combos in soothing drinks include passionfruit chamomile, blackberry lavender, blackcurrant mint, and white tea nectarine. As for stimulating beverages, look to pineapple ginger, mango turmeric, raspberry lime, and ginger lemonade.

Body Booster Function & Flavor Trends

As more and more advancements in medicine reach the general public, society as a whole continues to get savvier about our bodies and what we put in them. Nutraceuticals are one example of that, and the food-as-medicine camp overall has seen an influx in interest.

Shoppers are not afraid to reach in their pocketbooks to boost their body’s wellness, either. IRI Worldwide trends​ shows that consumers of all economic backgrounds are “trading up,” with more premium and even super-premium products gaining traction over private label and value brands. While inflation could slow the climb, the value buyers place on their health will keep growth steady.

Products that provide physical support with targeted nutritional properties are what’s hot, with four key areas taking a sizeable chunk of the budget: digestive health, immune health, anti-inflammatory aids, and vision improvement.

Flavor Focus

Flavors like ginger chai ACV and peppermint-fennel enhance digestive benefits; elderberry acai and tart cherry boysenberry prop up immune health benefits; golden chai turmeric and blueberry matcha complement anti-inflammatory benefits; and apricot mango and bilberry goji are clearly a match for vision benefits.

Beautifier Function & Flavor Trends

Beauty has been almost turned on its head over the last few years. Looking your best is now based on feeling your best, and self-care has taken on the same meaning. IRI Worldwide reports​ that 2021 saw an increase in sales for beauty brand companies of all sizes, as women and men increasingly look to improve and protect their skin, hair, and nails through functional ingredients, including biotin- and collagen-based support.

Healthy aging is also all the rage, and products infused with botanicals and antioxidants are flying off the retail and digital shelves. Natural products are poised to grow the fastest as those aforementioned savvy buyers are taking more notice of their beauty regimen.

Flavor Focus

Soothing green tea tangerine and watermelon cucumber, antioxidant-rich pom-blueberry and cranberry matcha, and rejuvenating goji aronia berry and pineapple grapefruit are all sure to put a smile on consumers’ faces.

Wellness isn’t going anywhere in the beverage industry, and as the innovations continue to roll out, it’s clear that brands are going to have to make (multi)function and flavor work together for the boldest benefit statements. Get in touch with the best in wellness flavors at Virginia Dare now.

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