2024 Beverage Trends: Quenching Consumers’ Thirst for Functional Webinar Extended Q&A – Part 2

Part 2: Development, Processing, & Regulatory

We’re back with Part 2 of our 3-part expanded Q&A series follow-up to our “2024 Beverage Trends: Quenching Consumers’ Thirst for Functional” webinar.

Hosted by our experts Denise Senter, Edlong’s Chief Commercial Officer, Dr. Bernd Koehler, Global VP of R&D, and Anne Marie Butler, Global Director of Strategy & Innovation, the webinar covered topics like:

  • How functional foods differ from the broader better-for-you category.
  • Trends and drivers in the market.
  • Taste challenges brought on by functional ingredients.

Denise Senter

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Dr. Bernd Koehler, Edlong Global VP of R&D

Let’s connect on LinkedIn!

Anne Marie Butler, Edlong Global Director of Strategy and Innovation

Let’s connect on LinkedIn!

This week’s Q&A tackles a range of issues focused on the development, processing, and regulatory facing functional products.


We organized this Q&A into three parts by the following topics.

For questions covered in the webinar, click the question link to jump to that part of the discussion.

Development, Processing, & Regulatory

Do you see new/novel processing technology in use with these functional Ingredients in an RTD?

Butler: Yes, we are definitely seeing new and novel processing, and  I think it’s happening at two stages: the manufacturing stage and the ingredients state. For example, I recently saw that a new ATP ingredient that’s more stable for RTD beverages has just come online. ATP is also being used more for energy drinks. 

There’s so much technology out there that’s being used, even before it gets to making the beverage. Now, in terms of our flavors, we’re utilizing new techniques to make them more stable and fit some of these processes. You also have to find new and innovative approaches toward manufacturing your products for better shelf stability.


Dr. Koehler: I agree we are seeing some impressive and innovative processing, but we are also looking back to very traditional, more natural ways of processing.

For example, I predict that fermentation will likely make a comeback and gain more importance in the manufacturing of plant-based foods.

Fermentation has been around for a long, long time. So, I would imagine that companies would try converting more non-animal-derived ingredients, raw materials, and substrates into innovative products with new and exciting textures, melt-ability, and stretchiness.  In terms of innovations in the ingredient space, precision fermentation will probably also deliver some exciting new opportunities for food manufacturers.

For smaller companies, how do you recommend we navigate the positioning of functional products to ensure customer transparency and legality on claim substantiation?

Dr. Koehler: This is a tough one; if you don’t have the data, it’s hard to make a claim. Every food that meets the claim’s requirements must have the active ingredient at the right level to have a positive health effect. But clinical trials are expensive, and as a smaller company, funding the large-scale studies needed for claim substantiation can be difficult. Even if you can afford one, there is no guarantee that it will yield the desired results.

Traditionally, when it comes to expanding new categories that require new claims, we often see smaller companies opt for the “fast follower” route. However, if you are trying to get to market within a specific time frame, it may be best to partner with consulting firms that are experts in the field and can advise on what type of rigor is needed and the best way to proceed to achieve the claims you are looking for.

What are you seeing in the growth of new plants for functionality and flavor?  Impact and risks?


Dr. Koehler: If we take green tea, for example, and we look at it increasing, say, the antioxidant concentration for a nearly medicinal effect, we also have to consider potential adverse health effects that could be associated with higher dosages of a functional ingredient.

Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

So functionality depends on the dosage and bioavailability of the ingredient needed to create the desired physiological effect. It’s about finding the right balance; otherwise, it could cause issues in your application, or have other diminishing returns for functionality.

Many of the plants or plant extracts currently found in functional beverages have long been used in traditional medicine. If you are using a new plant as an ingredient, it’s foundational that you confirm its safety for human consumption. As previously mentioned, you need to have toxicological data and scientific evidence to substantiate your claim.

Regarding risk, flavor is usually not an issue as long as the components are GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) and used at the recommended safe levels. Then, the way you dose a flavor depends on the finished product application.

Hungry for more? Click the links below to check out Parts 1 & 3


 Want to hear the full discussions around many of these important questions right now?

Topics: Better For YouBeveragesFunctional FoodsInnovation
Resource Type: Article
Resource Region: EULATAMUS


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