What Manager of Flavor Innovation, Aparna Oak, is looking for at the World Beverage Innovation Awards 2016

 In FoodBev, Press
Photo Credit: Food Safety Magazine

Photo Credit: Food Safety Magazine

Entrants to the World Beverage Innovation Awards are probably well aware of why beverages are such an obvious platform for innovation.  Differentiating beverages from one another remains a challenge – but one that I expect participants to excel at. Here are five considerations that entrants should keep in mind in order to win my vote in the 2016 World Beverage Innovation Awards:

Keep it healthy: Consumers are always looking for value added products, so I want to have a clear understanding of the health benefits that a product offers. I’d like to see functional beverages that help people meet their health and nutrition goals.

Less is more: Minimally processed ingredients are in line with current consumer values. Consumers perceive products with less ingredients as healthier, especially if they feature free-from claims.

Innovative flavor combinations: Consumers like the sound of exotic ingredients in a product. Pairing an exotic ingredient with a familiar flavor, like a fruit or vegetable makes a product more accessible to a larger segment of consumers. I look forward to seeing some innovative flavor combinations, including culinary/savory herbs paired with fruits.

Taste Modulation technology: Whether it’s the reduction of ingredients like fat and sugar, or the addition of functional nutrients like protein, taste and mouthfeel often suffer when trying to bring these benefits to consumers.  I am particularly interested in products that leverage innovative taste & mouthfeel modulation technology

Sustainable: By 2020, it is estimated that the global population will grow to more than 1 billion people, and continue to grow at an exponential rate. This growth will yield new consumers and new opportunities for innovation. There will also be a huge impact on the food and beverage industry globally, as the larger population will put pressure on the world’s natural resources – the source of raw materials. Even though many consumers are aware of non-GMO products, products that support sustainability will have a better chance of earning my vote. A product featuring ingredients using white biotechnology, for example, is certainly going to be more commercially viable in the longer term.