Immunity has become the leading driver in worldwide functional drinks innovation, according to beverage industry researcher, Zenith International. It noted that in the first six months of 2006, immune health has become more important than weight management, vitality and beauty in terms of beverage development.
Buoyant sales for beverages containing probiotics; green tea; antioxidant 'superfruits' such as pomegranate, açai, acerola, noni and mangosteen; and other fruits such as blackcurrants, blueberries and cranberries demonstrate consumer interest. Many of these products carry immune-function information in areas such as digestive health, physiological stress and cellular function.
Ingredients suppliers are also recognising the immunity opportunities with solution suites aimed at various beverage and other food categories. Companies such as Cognis have publicly stated that immunity is influencing much of their ingredient development work. Their research shows immunity ranks third among consumer health concerns behind disease prevention and healthy ageing.
Of 120 new products tracked by Zenith in the first half of 2006, 24 per cent placed emphasis on their potential to strengthen the immune system.
"Consumers are increasingly pro-active in their attitude towards wellness and wellbeing," said Zenith's Jenny Foulds. "Recognising this, beverage manufacturers are now shifting more towards positive action and prevention rather than cure. As companies pack more and more targeted ingredients into new products, the distinction between wellness, enriched and nutraceutical products is becoming progressively blurred."