15 Jul 2016


A healthy beverages expert presents his take on many of the emerging categories.

I just am returning from the Fancy Food Show in New York City today, and once again, a lot of interesting new products on display. I thought you may have an interest in hearing about the new product varieties I saw there,  at the Natural Product Expo West, and those landing at my doorstep these days from the various entrepreneurs we work with at my firm HealthyBrandBuilders (HBB).

There’s been a lot of progress made on the probiotic beverages front as of late. For example, the marketplace is now filled with kombucha’s galore in various flavors, colors and unique varieties. HBB has not taken any these products to market yet under a brand, but we work with a great encapsulation technology company that can time-release probiotics into your stomach and that is pretty cool. I think kombucha, much like coconut water, is a divisive product type. Something to note as well is that kids products are now out with pre/probiotics, something that may or may not be a good thing. The GI ‘microbiom’ are in the DNA we are born with, so screwing around with that with young people isn’t always advised.

Another popular beverage these days are protein drinks. We all know that powders full of this fabulous food source have been around for years, but up until recently been reserved for the musclehead crowd. Not any more. Now in beverages touting as much as 45 grams per half liter, all of us can get great tasting flavored protein loads to help meet the daily needs. In addition whey protein (isolate) has now been joined by protein sourced from non-animal sources like plants. So that means all these fabulous nut milks you have been seeing entering the marketplace. They are filled with such plant protein as pea, almond, cashew, pecan, pistachio and many more different nuts and seeds.  Many of these meet the needs of vegan and non-GMO ‘box tickers’, and come with healthier compositions when it comes to fat and cholesterol. So ‘clean label’ enthusiasts will be delighted. HBB IS in this space, and we are very excited about it.

There’s also been a cold press, organic (and non-) fruit and juice blends drink explosion, using HPP technology, now one of the fastest growing production aids in the marketplace. These aren’t in need of preservatives and many of these low acid products tout good shelf life, great enzymatic platforms and great delivery of taste and mouth feel. Whether you like cold pressed/filled/milled products or not, it is clear that dieters, cleansers and satiety seekers are loving them. We are deeply into these as well at HBB.

The energy drink category is still growing, albeit at a slower CAGR than before. In that space as well, we are seeing more natural and organic versions. On the other end of the spectrum, we also believe that the ‘anti energy’ or relaxation drinks segment will continue to grow, although to date, they are languishing without any one real market leader. This emerging segment needs the support of clinical trials to prove their validity.

Have you tried any aloe vera products? Many of them are delicious with anecdotal benefits for digestion and skin elasticity.  At the same time, alkaline waters finally seem to be hitting a stride (as the founding President of Essentia water way back, that’s nice to see). Waters sourced from exotic locales are also increasing in number, whether from far away places, rainwater, or the deep sea, and consumers are interested. Cactus water is another segment with promise, following on the heels of the coconut water boom. HBB is in that space too.

Speaking of water, my wish is for someone to figure out desalination at a reasonable price. Around 96 percent of the water on earth is not potable. We need to make it so, to support the 9 billion folks that will inhabit the earth by 2050, and prevent the real possibility of wars over water in the future. But that is a subject I’ll reserve for my next column.