Raise a Glass to Innovative Fruit and Vegetable Beverages

Remember Tang? The orange-flavored/orange-colored instant powdered beverage was a breakfast staple for generations of Americans. A vintage 1959 television commercial promoted the beverage as “the happy new breakfast drink you don’t squeeze, unfreeze, or refrigerate” with “more vitamin C than the finest orange juice—fresh or frozen.” The popularity of the beverage skyrocketed after NASA astronauts consumed it during space missions in the 1960s and novel, easy-to-prepare processed food products became increasingly popular with consumers. Simply mix a spoonful or two of the powder into a glass of cold water, and voilà—an orange drink the whole family will enjoy, or so the decades-old commercials imply.

As the appeal of this fruit-flavored instant powdered beverage has waned in the United States (though by some accounts it is still quite popular in areas around the world), new fruit and vegetable beverages have taken its place during breakfast time and throughout the day, giving consumers a wide choice of flavors, textures, health benefits, and beverage styles. “In the U.S., cold-pressed juices are driving innovation, and vegetables are extensively used to boost the health appeal of these products,” says Leslie Lannebere, category manager at Naturex, Avignon, France (naturex.com). “This has spread to the European market as well. Cucumber, kale, and beet are amongst the most popular vegetables in the beverage segment.” Thanks in part to ingredient innovations and creative product development efforts, today’s fruit and vegetable beverages are more varied than ever and offer something for everyone.

Demand for Healthful Beverages Grows
As an innovator that focuses on formulating and commercializing beverage products, Imbibe, Niles, Ill. (imbibeinc.com), has a finger on the pulse of what’s driving the beverage market, including fruit and vegetable beverages. Both health and wellness and clean label ingredients and products are top of mind. “Consumer demand for ingredients that deliver benefits naturally has increased in conjunction with the growth of the functional food and beverage segment. Both for the nutrients they provide and for the lack of additives (colors, preservatives, etc.) fruit and vegetable beverages that are 100% juice are gaining popularity,” says Ilana Orlofsky, marketing coordinator at Imbibe. Manufacturers of fruit and vegetable beverages as well as the suppliers that produce ingredients for these beverages are paying closer attention to the demands of label-conscious consumers. “The clean label craze plays a big role in what’s currently popular in all categories, including fruit and vegetable beverages; ingredient statements on 100% juice products may be complete with juice(s) listed as the only ingredient(s), giving these beverages the short, pronounceable ingredient lists that consumers seek,” she adds.

Read the full article on IFT Food Technology Magazine.

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