Criteria for World Beverage Innovation Awards 2017 from Aparna Oak, Director of Flavor Innovation

There are several factors that continue to inspire innovation across food and beverage, with health and wellness being one of the biggest drivers. In conjunction with the evolution of “healthy” we see a higher demand for clean label products, products that deliver health benefits naturally and the utilization of ingredients that are closer to the source. I look forward to judging the 2017 World Beverage Innovation Awards and will be paying close attention to the following five considerations for stand-out products:

  • Farm to Table – I’ve also heard this idea more aptly referred to as “garden to glass,” in the beverage space. garden to glassUnderstanding where ingredients come from and being able to communicate a compelling origin story to consumers should be a top priority for brands. This is especially true if the product includes ingredients that are hyper-local (within 100 miles), because it helps build a stronger connection between the brand and the consumer.
  • Sustainability – There has been an increase in brands that prioritize sustainability, whether their focus is on minimizing waste (which is sometimes achieved through using previously discarded ingredients) or sourcing ingredients that are produced with sustainable methods. Resourceful innovation would definitely capture my attention.
  • Non-GMO; should it stay or should it go? – The Non-GMO debate is on-going and often polarizing. Many consumers are confident in their stance (pro- or anti-) while others stand for the necessity of labeling products that are genetically modified. The latter group of consumers would be comfortable purchasing products with genetically modified ingredients, they just want to know what those products are. I’m interested to see where innovators fall on this topic, and whether beverage brands should insist on the Non-GMO Project Verified certification.
  • plant basedPlant-Based Ingredients – The progress we’ve seen in plant-based products in the past few years has been inspiring. Plant-based ingredients are often sought out by consumers that value sustainability and have a strong sense of social or emotional responsibility. Utilizing plant-based ingredients in a nutrient dense product would be a great strategy.
  • Informative, Relevant Food Labeling – Consumers remain extremely interested in protein and sugar content, and I predict that they’ll soon be as interested in fiber. Clearly communicating the nutrition facts that best align with mainstream consumer values will help gain high marks with me.

Learn more about the criteria of the other judges at FoodBev

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