Kerry releases healthy beverage whitepaper

The paper discusses reduced sugar beverages, dairy alternatives and low or no-alcohol beverages

Kerry, the Taste & Nutrition company a white paper on health beverages entitled The Right Taste for Healthier Beverages. Around a third of global consumers are now what Euromonitor terms “immunity seekers”. Often, this begins with choosing foods and beverages with reduced sugar and other healthy credentials.

Kerry’s whitepaper reviews the increase of consumers wishing to live lives more beneficial to themselves and the planet, and within that goal, the company says, is a desire to make healthier beverage and food choices. This presents a challenge to product developers to respond without sacrificing the taste so many have come to love and expect. The paper outlines the technical challenges involved in creating healthier beverages in the areas of sugar reduction, alternative dairy, low- or no-alcohol drinks and beers, hard seltzers and plant protein beverages, and then outlines ways to formulate alternatives that will appeal to a health-conscious public.

“COVID-19 has clearly accelerated the trend of consumers seeking healthy foods and beverages,” said Coralie Garcia Perrin, Global Marketing Director Sweet Taste, Kerry. “At the same time, our research shows that taste remains the top priority for people all over the world. Although commercial beverage manufacturing may appear fairly straightforward, almost all processing and formulation changes can affect taste. As consumers demand these healthier, more nutritious and more sustainable beverages, product developers need to address their health goals while maximising taste and mouthfeel appeal.”

“In this white paper, the Kerry Tastesense R&D and beverage applications team first focuses generally on beverage trends and formulation challenges, and then drills down to the best ways to formulate healthier beverages that retain their agreeable taste and mouthfeel and, ultimately, foster customer brand loyalty. The solutions presented in the various target areas — sugar reduction, alternative dairy, low- or no-alcohol, and plant protein beverages — should be of interest to every product developer.”

Currently, more than 35 countries worldwide have implemented sugar taxes as a health strategy. The public’s willingness and desire to curtail their sugar intake continues to influence the industry as a whole, with sweetened-beverage taxation policies precipitating a rapid change in direction for beverage manufacturers globally. According to Mintel, there has been a 44% increase in low-/reduced-sugar products in beverages since 2015. The practice of reducing sugar, however, leads to challenges around taste and mouthfeel that must be addressed.

One pivotal trend is an expansion of the range of non-dairy beverages, alternatives that are perceived as healthier by 71% of consumers. According to Kerry’s research, more than one-half of protein users now report “dairy-free” as their most important consideration when purchasing protein products. Plant-based beverages, which circumvent the outsized carbon emissions associated with animal products, are widely accepted as being less harmful to the planet.

Another continuing trend is consumers seeking low- or no-alcohol beverage substitutes that closely mimic the taste of traditional alcohols such as gin. In addition, over the last five years the public has become aware of such novel beverages as hard seltzers (the US) and low-/no-alcohol spirits (increasingly available in Europe).

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