Immune support still top of mind for functional beverage consumers, report finds

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - Wildpixel
©Getty Images - Wildpixel

Related tags Immune health Immunity Gut health Beauty from within functional beverage beverage

Immune health continues to be a primary concern for consumers of functional beverages, according to a new report from Irish ingredient supplier Kerry. The study also found that consumers are increasingly blurring the distinction between the benefits offered by dietary supplements and those found in functional beverages.

The report, released earlier this month, includes responses from more than 10,000 consumers who were surveyed in 18 countries in all the world’s CPG markets.  

In the report, Kerry said its research has led it to conclude that ingredients are now assuming lives of their own and have become something that consumers are seeking out specifically on functional beverage labels. This has led the company to postulate the emergence of a new category, which it is calling “Functional and Fortified.”

“Ingredients are gaining their own identity  as consumers look to achieve specific health goals from supplements as well as everyday beverages,”​ the company said.

Supplement/beverage cross pollination

The company noted that cross pollination between the supplements and beverage spaces is becoming more and more common.  This means that cross platform innovation has to become part of companies’ innovation strategies going forward, the report maintained.

The size of that cross platform opportunity is growing, too.  The report quotes research indicating that the global functional beverage market is slated to grow at more than 10% annually through 2026, hitting the $200 billion mark by the end of that year.  The US market accounts for the biggest slice of that pie, with the functional beverage market here sized at about $38 billion at the moment.

At the same time, other research quoted in the report indicated that at least 82% of consumers in the surveyed markets now use supplements at least occasionally.

“A significant opportunity exists in the functional and fortified space, with the conventional line between supplements and beverages blurring,” ​said Soumya Nair, Kerry’s global director of consumer research and insights.

The report found that consumers were likely willing to pay more for these added benefits, too.  Kerry said that 86% of consumers surveyed indicated they’d be willing to buy a more expensive functional beverage that supplied an additional health benefit.  Of those, 74% said they’d be willing to pay at least a 6% premium for such a product.

Top health concerns

Kerry found the top attributes functional beverage consumers were looking for in order are (ranked by how many consumers mentioned each concern):

  • Skin health—51%
  • Immune support—44%
  • Health hair support—44%
  • General weight management—43%
  • Digestive/gut health—42%
  • Heart health—42%
  • Muscle recovery (sports performance)—39%
  • Energy support—39%
  • Endurance (sports performance)—38%
  • Bone health—38%

In addition to what benefits consumers are looking for, the report also details how consumers are seeking to obtain those benefits.  Among the  ‘hero’ ingredients mentioned in the report are omega-3s, collagen, ashwagandha, green tea extract and apple cider vinegar.

The report also provides a breakdown of which ingredients are front of mind for consumers within given health concerns.  

Click here​ to download the full report.

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