Adequate fiber intake has been linked to a reduced risk of diseases such as colorectal cancers, gallstones, diabetes, breast cancer and heart disease, among others. The average American's diet contains about 12g of fiber per day, while the body needs some 20g daily in order to successfully reduce health risks. Some health experts recommend 25g per day.

WILD Flavors Inc. (Erlanger, Ky.) commissioned a study in order to better understand consumer interest in various beverage categories, including products formulated with fiber. WILD's Drink It![tm] market research was conducted to assist formulators and marketers with information on how to offer consumers beverages that are not only nutritionally sound, but that also feature appealing flavors and forms. Moskowitz Jacobs Inc. (White Plains, N.Y.) and The Understanding & Insight Group (Denville, N.J.) conducted the research. The research panel consisted of 209 consumers of which 71% were female.

Consumers specifically mentioned several fiber drinks that would be of interest to them, including: meal replacement drinks, yogurt beverages, soups, flavored soy drinks and organic beverages. Additional information was gathered on preferred flavors and preferred health ingredients.

A number of characteristics were found to add value to the base concept of a fiber drink (see chart “Compelling Elements”). There also were several elements that detracted from the concept. The most interesting was that specific brand names were said to add no value to--and in some cases, detract from--the various fiber beverage concepts presented. This suggests that consumers do not have a strong identity with any consumer brand in the fiber drink category.

Usage occasion is critical in formulating a fiber beverage. To target most popular consumer needs, panelists were asked, “On what five occasions do you typically want to drink fiber drinks most?” The results are seen in the chart “Top Five Occasions.”

Panelists also were asked which three attributes they consider to be most important when purchasing a fiber beverage. Some 83% checked off “taste,” 38% indicated “texture,” followed by 37% for “healthy ingredients,” 25% for “good for me,” and 23% for “lots of new flavor varieties.” The term “price” came in last, with only 22% saying it was one of the three attributes they would most consider in purchasing a fiber beverage.

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WILD Flavors Inc., Debby Poskanzer