The Natural List – What are functional beverages and do they work?

From defining “functional” to assigning responsibility, Scott Miller breaks down this booming product category and the problems of “pixie dusting.”

28 Min Listen

In this episode of The Natural List, co-hosts Jessica Rubino and Adrienne Smith welcome Food and Beverage Insider staff writer Scott Miller to weigh in on the functional beverage category.   

What makes a beverage “functional?” How do retailers, brands and consumers define this emerging category? And who is ultimately responsible for ensuring consumers are informed about a product’s ingredients and efficacy?  

This timely conversation identifies current challenges in the functional beverage space and the problems of “pixie dusting,” plus offers insights into the class-action lawsuit against prebiotic soda brand Poppi and highlights the importance of ingredient transparency and accuracy. 

Read: Monitor: Functional beverages need to be beneficial—and transparent for more about functional beverages.

In this episode:   

  • 1:25 – Welcome Scott Miller from Food and Beverage Insider!  

  • 3:30 – What makes a beverage “functional?”  

  • 7:00 – Scott discusses the recent lawsuit against prebiotic brand Poppi.  

  • 11:50 – Nutrition facts panels versus supplement facts panels.  

  • 14:10 – Consumer education: A shared responsibility.  

  • 15:50 – What questions should consumers be asking?  

  • 20:00 – The debate about branded ingredients.  

  • 23:40 – It's time for The List! 

Brands featured in this episode: Rarebird Coffee, Celsius and Spare Tonic. 

Enjoy this new episode here and wherever you listen to your podcasts, including Spotify, Apple and Google podcasts.   

Interested in being a guest on The Natural List? Email us at [email protected]

Our guest

Scott Miller, Staff Writer 
Food and Beverage Insider 


Scott Miller brings two decades of experience as a writer, editor, and communications specialist to Food & Beverage Insider. He’s done a little of everything, from walking a beat as a freelance journalist to taking the Big Red Pen to massive technical volumes. He even ran a professional brewing industry website for several years, leveling up content delivery during an era when everyone had a blog. 

Since starting at Food & Beverage Insider, he’s written pieces on the price of greenwashing and how to avoid it, debunked studies that served little to no purpose other than upsetting the public and explained the benefits of caffeine alternatives, along with various other stories on trends and events. 

Scott is particularly interested in how science, technology and industry are converging to answer tomorrow’s big questions about food insecurity, climate change and more. 

Your hosts  

About Jessica Rubino  


Jessica Rubino is a natural products industry expert and content strategist with more than 15 years experience in media, events and natural products. As New Hope Network’s vice president of content, Jessica oversees digital and print content, conference programming and branded content for CPGs, retailers, investors and service providers. Jessica is passionate about using innovation as a force for good and leveraging content to spark the changes we want to see in the world.  

About Adrienne Smith  


Adrienne Smith is the director of content for and the editor-in-chief of Natural Foods Merchandiser magazine where she helps ideate and produce content for natural products retailers, brands and entrepreneurs. Before coming to New Hope Network, she spent nearly two decades writing about food and beverage products and trends for the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Trade in Madrid, Spain, as well as for publications including the International Herald Tribune/New York Times and El País

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