What’s hot in functional beverages? Omega-3s, prebiotics and probiotics

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

Interest in probiotics is skyrocketing and the friendly bugs are increasingly turning up in functional beverages. But what are the challenges of this delivery system and what are the solutions?

Joe Farinella, VP of R&D at Imbibe, stopped by our booth during the recent IFT Annual Meeting and Expo in Chicago to talk about formulating beverages with probiotics, and what he sees coming next in the functional beverage arena.

“Spore formers definitely offer a lot of benefits. They’re very hardy and robust in beverages. Mother Nature does a pretty good job protecting those microorganisms on her own,”​ said Farinella.

“We’ve done a lot of work with Ganeden’s BC30 and we’ve been very happy with the results.”

“So long as you’re staying refrigerated and you’re not reaching the threshold germination temperature, you’re usually OK throughout the duration of shelf-life. The key is to understand how many microorganisms are going to die in that thermal process, and it’s probably a good idea to over-compensate as well, just to be sure that at the end of shelf-life your consumers are getting the right amount of probiotics.”

Farinella picked out Lifeway and Suja as companies that are doing probiotics well.

Looking ahead, Farinella picked prebiotics and omega-3s as two big ingredients to watch in the beverage space.

“Prebiotics are a really interesting emerging technology. While probiotics are pretty straightforward to work with, and prebiotics are even easier,”​ he said. “And I’ve always been a big fan of omega-3s. There are already a lot of products out there now, but I do think there’s going to be an explosion of omega-3 beverages. The benefits are so great, and now the technology from a flavor and stability standpoint is catching up, too. I think we’ll see more on omega-3s.” 

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