#Trendspotting: What Some Brands Are Doing to Remove Artificial Preservatives from their Portfolio

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Eliminating artificial preservatives (like nitrates, sulfites, and benzoates) in shelf-stable beverages is a frequent topic of conversation throughout the industry, as consumers seek cleaner labels and certain preservatives are associated with diseases (e.g., nitrates and colon cancer, many others with allergies, asthma, neurological damage, etc.). Natural preservatives and the use of thermal processing methods like tunnel pasteurization, flash pasteurization, and hot fill are some common remedies, allowing for easy removal of artificial preservatives (especially in high-acid products).
Are you considering reformulating so that your product succeeds without artificial preservatives? Keep reading for some actionable solutions, all of which Imbibe is equipped to support.

Making the Swap    |    Trust the Process    |    Preservative Forecast

Making the Swap

“Natural” is a modern buzzword that has extended to preservatives, especially those of mushroom origin.  

Nagardo is a clean label-friendly, powdered, and natural preservative derived from an edible fungus. 

  • Listed as Natural glycolipids, Sweet Osmanthus Ear glycolipids, Glycolipids, Mushroom glycolipids, or Mushroom extract
  • GRAS status in the US and approved use in the EU, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand
  • Used in carbonated & still soft drinks, sports drinks, teas, flavored water, juice, and other categories


  • Derived from mushrooms
  • Promoted as colorless, odorless, and tasteless when used in beverages
  • Used in RTDs including flavored water, energy drinks, juices, concentrates, non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages 

Why we’re seeing them: 

  • Natural is a powerful idea 
  • Consumers are obsessed with mushrooms 

The challenges: 

  • The cost 
  • Consumer acceptance of mushrooms in unexpected places (e.g., Capri Sun reformulation) 
  • Active testing still in play 
Trust the Process

Thermal processing of beverages is not new technology, but we’re seeing it go from proliferation to ubiquity. The types of beverages that are being thermally processed is always expanding as consumers are looking for more clean-label alternatives to carbonated soft drinks and similar beverage types. Today, we are even seeing breweries producing carbonated soft drinks or energy drinks because they have the right equipment for the job, and they’re great partners for smaller companies. 


Tunnel pasteurization  

  • Great option for carbonated beverages  
  • Thermal process happens after the canning/bottling step.  
  • Becoming more common with historically artificially preserved products (e.g., energy drinks) 

Hot Fill 

  • Advantageous for still beverages 
  • Popular for functional beverages and juice 
Gatorade Fast Twitch

Flash Pasteurization 

  • Increasingly common in carbonated and still beverages 
  • When coupled with tunnel pasteurization, can reduce degradation of nutrients, flavor, and color 

Market Products that are Hot (Heat Treated to avoid Artificial Preservatives) 

Preservative Forecast

Studies continue to determine usage rates and effectiveness across applications
Premature preservative-free or launches with natural preservative may result in product spoilage
There are more than 10,000 varieties of edible mushrooms – the world is our oyster (mushroom)
Pay attention to language, claims, and product labels surrounding natural preservatives

Imbibe Infrastructure (Some ways we can help get your naturally preserved or preservative-free product to garner the attention it deserves) 

  • Regulatory support: Ensure your labels and claims are in compliance.  
  • Challenge studies: Minimize the challenges you face as you scale up. Imbibe will evaluate samples with different preservative concentrations, inoculated with microorganisms to assess success or failure. 
  • Pilot plant: Save time by testing the thermal processing method before manufacturing your product. Imbibe will help determine which type of thermal processing is necessary to create a commercially sterile product. 
Preservatives Free

For product preservation (with or without preservatives) email marketing@imbibeinc.com or contact us by clicking below. 

Contact Us

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