It could be said that Functional Ingredients are behind the revolution in the consumer-beverage market. From Gatorade to Red Bull to Odwalla, these hepped-up beverages have all made their mark with the physiological benefit they offer consumers beyond sugar and calories.
Indeed, the functional-benefit lines have been blurred by the infusion of ingredients. Dieters were looking for sugar's sweetness, but with an absence of sugar's calories. That desire paved the way for the expansion and R&D into high-intensity sweeteners, as well as sugar alcohols. These so-called polyols are discussed in our Formulations article this month, with the top take-home message being to first decide which ingredient you want to replace in your product before proceeding to choose the particular polyol to use, because each polyol behaves a bit differently from another.
Once caffeine began moving away from the coffee pot and into soft drinks, today's energy drinks became infused with caffeine and caffeine-loaded ingredients such as guarana and green tea. Additional hot ingredients finding their way into products and advertised prominently on labels include amino acids such as taurine, B vitamins and performance ingredients like carnitine. The latest frontier, as Lynda Searby writes about in Business Strategies, is the crossover of sexual-performance ingredients into the athletic-performance and energy-drink sector. It makes sense from a physiological point of view, and the marketing aspect is easy to link, but suppliers have mostly positioned these ingredients on a broader energy- and stamina-promoting platform.
Self-regulation has become a big topic — making great steps forward in several areas this year. We have news of CRN's National Advertising Division initiative this issue. Launched almost a year ago, it has made an impressive start trying to weed out misleading and deceptive claims and advertising. Designed to level the playing field between companies, the programme encourages competitors to report what they believe to be misleading claims. Let's hope this will help eliminate some of the industry's worst excesses.
A year on, the trade association GOED (The Global Organization for EPA & DHA Omega-3s) has hit the 50+ membership mark with its goal of developing a self-regulating model of standards and policies to protect the integrity and nutritional contribution of the EPA/DHA omega-3s category. Despite considerable consumer awareness of omega-3s, much educational work remains to explain the complicated messages to consumers. GOED will have its work cut out.
And as we highlighted in our last issue, the Probiotics Council is another new body that aims to set standards for probiotic strains and work with regulators.
All these initiatives are designed to show this is a responsible industry that can regulate itself — so let's hope we can live up to that worthwhile goal.