Trend Setters: Formulating with Functional Ingredients

Despite what your parents might have told you, trends matter.

Whether you’re looking to meet the growing demands of what’s current or trying to start something brand new, addressing trends is an essential part of developing food and beverage products.

Personally, when developing products, one of the first things that comes to mind is what’s trending? Then, more specifically, what’s trending with our target market and demographics.

Right now, health and wellness have gone from a trend to a full-fledged movement, making up a significant sector of the food industry’s developments.

Though these developments span multiple food and beverage application categories, one that is clearly trending up is functional beverages.

functional beverages

Growing wildly in a short amount of time, these beverages are checking the boxes for consumers looking to:

  • Boost immunity and promote sleep
  • Increase relaxation or decrease stress
  • Promote a healthy gut, heart, and more

Making “functional” happen might seem simple enough, but formulating beverages that pack all the benefits and actually taste great is how you become a real trendsetter.

Moving From Paper to Product

Understanding and identifying trends is one thing; moving from the paper exercise to a successful product is another.

Bringing an idea to life starts with selecting the right ingredients.

This might seem simple enough, but the main ingredients we choose for our beverage development will ultimately define the type of processing, safety considerations, and taste and texture challenges it may face.

Finding the Right Ingredients = Asking the right questions

When it comes to choosing the right functional ingredients for a beverage, I first want to know what my consumers are searching for.

Do I need to fortify my products with protein, amino acids, collagen, vitamins, caffeine, or other trending ingredients, such as adaptogens and nootropics? Still, answering this is just the beginning. Depending on what benefit your target demographic desires will determine what question you need to answer next.


Tackling Taste & Texture

Functional ingredients may benefit health, but they can often do the opposite for a product’s taste and texture.

For example, a beverage of the “good for the gut” variety, whether plant-based or traditional dairy, will be cultured. The microorganisms doing all of the heavy lifting for your health also drop the pH level of the product. This can aid in creating texture and providing an environment that helps with shelf stability and processing conditions.

However, this can add too much acidity in the taste department and throw off the balance of your product. Dairy flavours are a fantastic way to bring back that balance or even boost indulgence with a sweet profile like caramel or chocolate.


Protein is one of the most in-demand functional ingredients but is also one of the biggest culprits for creating off notes and texture issues.

Dairy proteins, such as MPC, are often used in high-protein beverages for their excellent bioavailability and heat stability, but the tradeoff becomes an increase in unwanted bitter notes.

Plant-based proteins, like those derived from legumes, can leave you with green beanie notes that will need to be masked.

In addition to taste challenges, they might also bring issues to your beverage’s texture, leading to more questions like:

Will I need a stabiliser to stop sedimentation or improve mouthfeel? Does my beverage contain fat that will need strong emulsifiers?

Keeping it Together: Stabiliser Systems

Aside from water-based or carbonated beverages, most products on the market contain some kind of stabiliser system.

While essential for keeping your beverage together, many of these systems must be heated to a specific temperature to become functional, impacting your processing.

This is why it is vital to understand not only your product but how people will interact with it.

Some gums, for example, are more suitable and soluble for a cold RTM (ready-to-mix) beverage, while those same stabilisers wouldn’t withstand more rigorous processing.

Gellan gums are a favourite amongst beverages in the plant-based milk category, but there are many other options out there for beverage solutions.


Too much of a good thing, or just enough: Usage Levels

The excitement around functional beverages comes from the health benefit claims they make that regular products can’t.

Yet, choosing the ingredients with the right benefits isn’t enough. Knowing their properties and the proper usage levels is critical.

Not all proteins are equal in bioavailability, and many ingredients, like caffeine or certain adaptogens, might only need the smallest amount to make a difference. Then there is also the question of how the levels of these ingredients impact all the previously mentioned factors (taste, texture, processing).

Frankly speaking, it’s a lot.

The good news is that you don’t have to take it all on by yourself.

With Edlong, we have over a century of experience overcoming the challenges of countless trends, not to mention setting a few of our own.

Got questions on how to get started? We’ve got answers. Contact us today!

Functional in Action

This 0% added sugar RTD oat cold brew was inspired by the traditional Italian dish tiramisu comprised of indulgent layers of biscuit, egg yolks, sugar, coffee, mascarpone and cocoa powder. Along with indulging your senses this functional beverage contains 110mg of caffeine 100mg  L-Theanine & 100mg of Ashwagandha per 100ml.

This super combination known for calming and stress-relieving properties can provide a synergistic effect with the naturally present caffeine, helping consumers get all of the energy with none of the jitters. This take on translating a dessert to a delicious RTD uses Edlong’s milk and sweet dairy range to mask, add sweetness and play on the main flavour notes of the original dish. With a balanced flavour profile you can create a whole new taste experience for a well know classic!

Tiramisù Flavoured Cold Brew Beverage with Nootropic & Adaptogenic Properties Beverage 



Creamer  Flavoured  
Water  82.923 
Tirlan Functional Oat Flour 11.000 
Sunflower Oil 2.200 
Cocoa Powder 1.000 
Instant Coffee (110mg Caffeine) 1.800 
Ashwagandha (100mg) 0.100 
L-Theanine (100g) 0.050 
Tri Calcium Phosphate  0.100 
Potassium Sorbate  0.100 
Gum Blend LGB/Gellan  0.070 
Salt 0.050 
Sucralose  0.007 
Natural Dark Chocolate Flavour #614 – Liquid (KP) Water Soluble  0.200 
Natural Milk Type Flavour #1412172 – Liquid (KP) Water Soluble  0.200 
Natural Butter Vanilla Type Flavour #1413128 – Liquid (KP) Water Soluble 0.200 
Total: 100.000 

About the Author: Emily Sheehan, Applications Manager, EMEA

Hi! I’m Emily Sheehan. I’m the Applications Manager, EMEA at Edlong, and my job is rooted in creating exciting new possibilities for our people and processes. It’s inspiring to reflect on how much Edlong has achieved and even more amazing to be involved in such thoughtful innovation. We enjoy pushing boundaries in food and flavour, and we welcome everyone in the food industry to join us. If you’re in need of expertise or inspiration, I’d love to collaborate and help you design flavour solutions that resonate with consumers!

Topics: BeveragesFunctional Foods
Resource Type: Article
Resource Region: EU


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