[Webinar] Better-for-you beverage brands meet the moment with functionality, flavor, nutrition

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: FoodNavigator-USA
Image Credit: FoodNavigator-USA

Related tags functional beverage Soylent low sugar Meal replacement

Consumers today are not only satisfied with great-tasting, affordable and nutritious beverages; they also want products that fit into their lifestyles and provide a range of functional benefits from energy, focus, and even heart, brain, and immune system health, which will be a focus of an upcoming FoodNavigator-USA webinar.

In the upcoming “Functional beverages AM to PM: From energy and focus to clarity and calm” webinar, which will take place on September 20, 2023, at 11:00 AM CT (register here​), a panel of CPG leaders and experts from across the industry will discuss how the beverage industry is responding to a range of functional demands and how each of the brands are navigating the evolving beverage landscape. 

This panel discussion with be moderated by Ryan Daily, senior correspondent for FoodNavigator-USA, and will feature insight from CPG brand leaders and experts, including: 

  • Howard Telford​, senior industry manager of soft drinks research, Euromonitor
  • Jen Wu​, managing director, L.E.K. Consulting
  • Demir Vangelov​, strategic board director, Starco Brands and former CEO of Soylent​ 
  • Vasa Martinez​, founder & CEO, Perfy
  • Jennifer Ross​, co-founder & Co-CEO, Swoon

From meal replacements to low-sugar beverages: Consumers want functionality, flavor 

As consumers look for on-the-go nutrition and functionality, it is propelling the growth of the functional beverage market. The global functional beverage market was worth $204.8bn in 2022 and is expected to grow by a 7.1% CAGR between 2023 and 2030, as consumers around the world look for functional beverage to address heart, brain, immunity health and more, according to Grand View Research​.

In developing these products, it is important to have a system where “function and taste are hand-in-hand,​” which is how meal replacement brand Soylent approaches beverage innovation, Vangelov said in a FoodNavigator-USA interview​. 

And when it comes to popular functional ingredients, l-theanine, ashwagandha, and turmeric are among some of the most popular and provide Perfy’s beverages with focus, stress and inflammation support, respectively. Martinez was inspired to launch the brand because of his own struggles with pre-diabetes and to help reduce the risk of “soda lovers like himself from developing diabetes.​”  

Register for the Functional beverages AM to PM: From energy and focus to clarity and calm webinar here

Sometimes, inspiration for flavor or product innovations emerge not from from a trending taste or functional ingredient but a childhood toy. Earlier this year, better-for-you beverage brand Swoon partnered with the iconic Barbie brand to release the Barbie Pink Lemonade flavor of its zero sugar and functional beverage. 

And similar to Perfy, Ross was inspired to launch Swoon in 2020 because of her own health journey and being Type 1 diabetic since a young age. While zero-sugar options are important for people with diabetes, it is an important aspect for all consumers health.

Or as Ross’ business partner, Cristina Ros Blankfein told, FoodNavigator-USA in a recent interview: “Zero sugar is not a trend. Reducing sugar is not something that all of a sudden leading-health organizations or doctors are going to change their mind on.​”

Navigating the capital crunch, growing brands in a turbulent business environment

At the same time that brands are trying to deliver on functionality, flavor and affordability, functional beverage brands – like the rest of the CPG industry – are finding it harder to secure capital and funding in today’s economic environment, which is creating a number of unique challenges for brands moving forward. 

Most of the food and beverage industry is returning to the business basics of focusing on profitability over growth and being even more strategic about how they approach the market with new offerings. On the retail side, consumers are returning to brick-and-mortar stores and trading down to private label brands, creating a different set of business challenges. 

For perspective of what is working and not for brands, Wu will share her outlook on how brands are navigating these challenges, along with insight into the overall functional space. And Vangelov will share how Soylent was acquired by Starco Brand​ and is taking “the 1+1=3​” approach to growth by leveraging synergies between a portfolio of food, beverage and lifestyle brands.    

To ensure that you don’t miss any of the insight in this free editorial webinar, join the discussion and secure your seat by registering today here​.  


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