#Trendspotting: Ingredient Spotlight
Your source for the most up-to-date information on emerging beverage trends.
Nootropics should hardly be new to you (we’ve been writing about them for a few years now) as this term has experienced 23% growth in monthly Google searches in the past 18 months. This ingredient group encompasses all substances that contribute to improving cognitive function, whether it be through mood modulation, increased focus, and mental acuity or clarity. The most ubiquitous nootropic is caffeine, though the experimentation and innovation occurring in the beverage sector extends far beyond this societal staple.
While the new Coconut and Papaya CBD sparkling water SKU from aprch doesn’t list the amount of L-theanine in their water designed to deliver a vacation adjacent experience, we know this amino acid to be a powerful and increasingly popular nootropic. L-theanine is naturally found in green tea (matcha) and mushrooms and is on track to become one of the hottest ingredients in the beverage space, partly for its versatility (it can amplify feelings of calm and can deliver bursts of energy) and for its natural halo. Where else is L-theanine? Phocus sparkling water, Super Coffee Vanilla Super Espresso, Soulboost ease from PepsiCo, and Hydrant’s Sleep.
Other nootropics to consider in your next formulation: any of the medicinal mushrooms that continue to bloom across beverages; chaga, reishi, turkey tail, lion’s mane and cordyceps are the top five on our radar. Barcode plant-based hydration beverage leans on cordyceps extract, Pivot cold brew incorporates reishi extract into their coffees, and Laird Superfood blends chaga, lion’s mane, cordyceps and maitake mushrooms in their Renew plant-based protein powder. Magnesium also deserves an honorable mention as it’s making its way into products designed to calm consumers down.
We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention the star player of the adaptogen and nootropic family: ashwagandha (ashwagandha products grew 117% in 2020, according to SPINS). This plant is officially on the map, thanks to Coca Cola’s smartwater+ tranquility with ashwagandha extract and also because of the significant leg work done by many other brands who have captured consumers’ attention, and likely calmed them down a bit. Similar to L-theanine, ashwagandha can act as an anxiolytic (anxiety and stress reducer) and can also assist in perking you up. It will continue to appear across beverage categories, but here are a few ashwagandha-infused products we’ve spotted recently: Unity wellness’s Unwind line, VYBES adaptogenic elixir (with the inclusion of a stone fruit, apricot, that is quite sparse as a flavor in the beverage space), G Fuel Bad Batch Hydration, and Three Spirit nightcap.
We posted about prebiotic fiber in 2017 and recognized its potential to resonate with consumers since 95% of Americans aren’t ingesting the recommended daily intake of this critical nutrient. Finally, the time has come, and we suspect the time will stay for at least the next three to five years, both for prebiotics and for apple cider vinegar, two ingredients with benefits associated with gut health. Apple cider vinegar products saw 181% growth in 2020, according to SPINS.
Leading the prebiotic charge at the moment is Vitaminwater’s recent launch of gutsy, a watermelon peach product with 5g of prebiotic fiber. Olipop continues to flourish and recently launched an Orange Cream SKU with 9g of fiber per can of pop. Pedialyte’s Covid-19 inspired immune support powdered beverage also incorporates prebiotics, from a branded ingredient called PreActiv. Remedy Organics launched a Cold Brew Keto line earlier this year with no added sugar, 4g of net carbs and prebiotics from tapioca. Kevita also expanded outside for their legacy probiotic line with prebiotic shots in beet lemon, blueberry mint, and turmeric ginger.
On the apple cider vinegar front, be gud introduced two ACV based shots earlier this year, in elderflower and apple ginger. Their website claims that ACV boosts not only gut health, but heart health and digestion as well.
Products uniting sparkling and age-defying properties include Skinte sparkling tea with green tea grapefruit, white tea ginger, hibiscus vanilla and lemon lime varieties and Luster & Lum in cherry kiss, lush lemon and ravish raspberry. Circle Bev may not position their sparkling collagen water as a beauty booster, but we suspect consumers would get the same benefits from the 20g of collagen in their watermelon thyme, lemon mint, vanilla pear and raspberry hibiscus SKUs.
We’re also watching Aquamin ingredients, comprising multiple minerals derived from seaweed and have benefits that expand beyond beauty. Aquamin calcium has made its way into many products in the Laird Superfood portfolio and more recently into a SKU of enhanced water from Voss (Voss+ Aquamin) which boasts 74 trace minerals and electrolytes. Mello also lists Aquamin on their ingredient statement, but opts for the magnesium citrate variety in their single serve stick packs claiming to help regulate a variety of biological functions.