Skip links

Trends Shaping the Functional Beverage Industry in 2020

Table Of Contents hide

The functional beverage market includes energy drinks, fortified juice, sports drinks, dairy. and dairy alternative drinks. Also included in this category are enhanced water products, ready-to-drink tea, and coffee. From 2019-2024 the global functional beverage market is predicted to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 8.66%.

Increasing health awareness among the young population is driving a move from fruit juices and carbonated drinks to functional beverages. Additionally, consumers have demonstrated that they are willing to pay higher prices to gain the advantages associated with these drinks.

Top 10 Trends

Coronavirus Driving Increase in Demand for Functional Beverages

The pandemic has accelerated an already growing trend of health awareness in the public. People are looking for both food and beverages that can boost immunity and decrease the chances of contracting the virus. The pandemic has accelerated the substitution of sugary drinks and soft drinks with functional beverages to curb the effects of COVID-19.
Even with the increased demand for functional beverages, the market is still expected to decline by 2.5% this year. The economic slowdown and social distancing measures are constraining economic activity.

Broadening Range of Functional Applications

In addition to beverages that deliver digestive health benefits and boost energy, there is an increasingly growing market that delivers mood-boosting and relaxation benefits. Among the middle-aged and elderly population, functional beverages that boost cognitive health are on the rise. Additionally, stress and sleep functional drinks have increased in popularity.

The increasing range of functional beverages will advance the scope of the market and lead to more research and development opportunities. Specifically, companies are looking for ingredient combinations that will maximize health and mental benefits.

Experimentation with New Ingredients

With the broadening range of functional applications being sought by consumers, suppliers are looking to utilize new ingredients that better meet the functional goals of consumers. In the sports drink field, suppliers are expanding their choice of ingredients to enhance sports nutrition benefits. Drinks with creatines and branch-chained amino acids are growing in popularity.

Additionally, drinks that boost cognitive health and energy are experimenting with ingredients such as CBD, collagen, and adaptogens. These ingredients are popular among millennials, although the use of these ingredients will likely spur a movement to go back to the basic vitamins and minerals.

Energy Drinks Moving Beyond Caffeine

Although caffeine is still widely used in energy drinks, more people are becoming aware of the possible negative effects. Consumers are seeking to avoid the crash associated with caffeine and possible disruptions to sleeping patterns.

Therefore, the use of L-theanine has experienced an uptick in the energy drink field. Consumers say that the amino acid provides a sustained energy boost and cognitive benefits without the sudden crash associated with caffeine. Innovation in the energy drink field and research into caffeine alternatives will likely continue in 2021.

Experimentation with Nootropics in Cognitive Health Drinks

Cognitive health drinks are rapidly seeking to incorporate new ingredients such as nootropics into their products. Nootropics refer to a set of ingredients that enhance cognitive health including memory, clarity, and creativity.

This includes antioxidant botanical ingredients such as green tea and yerba mate that are popular in the younger demographic. It also includes adaptogenic herbs including ginseng and Schisandra that are said to boost energy and mood. Research and incorporation of nootropics is another trend to watch in the coming year.

Increasing Demand for Healthy Hydration Drinks

Functional beverages such as ready to drink tea (RTD) are considered healthy hydration drinks. While providing refreshment and stimulating benefits, it does not have the possible detrimental effects of coffee that could make someone jittery or crash. These drinks are organoleptic, stimulating the sense of smell, sight, and taste.

Young consumers are a developing market for healthy hydration products who like its convenience and see it as a viable alternative to traditional soft drinks. Another healthy hydration product that is growing in popularity is enhanced water. Suppliers can expect demand for healthy hydration to grow in the coming year.

More Distribution Channels

The distribution channels for the functional beverage market have been segmented into supermarkets, departmental stores, health stores, and online stores. In the past, functional beverages were a novelty and consumers liked to buy in person.

The pandemic has increased the visibility of functional beverages, especially in online stores and health store websites. The pandemic is expected to accelerate the online market for functional beverages in 2021 as consumers become accustomed to buying their products online. Social distancing guidelines are likely to remain in effect for part of 2021, so online sales are expected to remain high.

North America Expected to Retain Major Market Share

North America currently has the largest market share in the global functional beverages market and will hold that position in 2021. There is already high awareness of the health benefits regarding functional beverages and there is high demand across the region. Additionally, there is a growth in functional RTF beverage manufacturers in countries such as the U.S.

Other regions expected to register growth include Europe and Asia where there are increasing demand and rising health consciousness. In Asia, there is an increasing per capita income that is expected to increase significantly to growth.

Women Remain Under Targeted

Although women are more likely to purchase functional beverages for spouses and children they remain an under targeted market. Moms purchase functional beverages for their children and are more likely to practice healthy lifestyles compared to men.

However, there is still a lack of products that specifically target women for issues such as calcium deprivation. Additionally, energy drinks are still advertised to men although there is a fast-growing subset of female consumers.

Expansion for Plant-Based Options

Hydration beverages are increasingly incorporating more plant-based ingredients into their products. The availability of plant-based waters includes pressed lettuce water and sweet potato water is increasing.

Established beverage giants are innovating to combine their previous successful products with plant-sourced electrolytes and juice to provide enhanced products to consumers.

10 Must Know Statistics

From 2015-2019, brain health is the fastest-growing functional claim in all U.S. beverages.

This speaks to the growing awareness of maintaining cognitive health when aging. The use of nootropics and MCT oil in cognitive health drinks will expand in the coming year. Suppliers should seek to incorporate these drinks into their inventory to meet growing consumer demand.[Source]

24% of consumers say they eat or drink products that contain probiotics

Awareness of digestive health is another important trend to watch in the coming year. Consumers are turning to drinks with pre- and postbiotics that help fortify their gut health. Drinks that incorporate both prebiotics and probiotics are increasing in popularity. Drinks that incorporate fiber are also adding to the promotion of digestive health. [Source]

34% of 18-24 year-olds consume energy drinks regularly

Although consumers are becoming more aware of the possible negative effects of caffeine in energy drinks, they remain popular in the young demographic. The energy drink industry is rapidly innovating though, incorporating antioxidants, amino acids, and natural ingredients to supplement the demand for caffeine. [Source]

The functional beverages market is expected to decrease from $128.66 billion in 2019 to $125.39 billion in 2020

Even with increased consumer demand for functional drinks, lockdowns, and social distancing norms resulting from the pandemic have harmed the industry’s growth rate in 2020. However, with optimism over the development of a vaccine in the coming year, the increased awareness and demand for functional beverages is expected to translate into more sales. [Source]

The functional beverages market is expected to grow by 8.07% in 2021

This points to an unexpected recovery and growth in the market for functional beverages. Surveys have found that a majority of people say that their health consciousness has increased significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that they plan to change their diets as a result. People also said that being confined to their homes made them more conscious of weight management and sugar intake. [Source]

The top ten companies the functional beverage industry account for 50% of the market share

This statistic shows that the functional beverage industry remains highly concentrated although there is high growth potential. The leading players in the market such as Nestle and PepsiCo dominate the current market. [Source]

The global market size of digestive health products is more than five times the size of the market for brain health products

This points to the massive potential for the cognitive health functional beverage market. Although there is an increasing demand for these products, the market has seen the level of investment that digestive health products such as kombucha have experienced. [Source]

In June 2020, 80% of consumers said they were planning to eat or drink more healthily because of COVID-19

This is a significant increase from earlier in the pandemic and is expected to drive an increase in functional beverage demand after the pandemic recedes. The pandemic boost in health consciousness is expected to be a major booster to the functional beverage industry in 2021. [Source]

Research suggests that vitamin C and omega 3 are the ingredients most associated with immune health

While traditional ingredients and vitamins are still at the forefront of the functional beverage industry, consumers are becoming more receptive to other ingredients. Millennials are seeking CBD and amino acids in their functional beverages. [Source]

From 2013-18, the share of packaged products with a focus on health and wellness grew by 1.8% globally

The share of health products available to consumers is rapidly increasing, which bodes well for the functional beverage industry. People are becoming more receptive to drinks which can provide a range of health benefits. [Source]