A recent study by The Natural Marketing Institute (Harleysville, Pa.) was based on a primary consumer research study of a representative sample (1,091 individuals) of the general U.S. population, and sought to measure consumer attitudes and preferences for minerals in beverages.

Usage of fortified beverages is high, says the PURAC America, Inc- (Lincolnshire, Ill.) commissioned study; 69.7% have consumed such products. Of these, 23.3% consume a fortified beverage once a day or more, and 23.7% consume a fortified beverage from one to six times a week. Some 34.1% are concerned about the taste of beverages with added calcium, whereas 41.4% express concern about the taste of beverages fortified with other minerals. If minerals could be added to beverages without affecting the taste, 51.8% would be interested. PURAC's minerals make it possible to fortify a wide variety of foods and beverages without sacrificing taste.

Two-thirds of consumers see themselves as deficient in calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and/or potassium (See chart “What's Missing”), while 69.5% consider calcium one of the most important ingredients in fortified beverages and necessary for maintaining a healthy lifestyle (See chart “Needful Things”). Iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc also are perceived as important, with 69.7% recognizing the link between iron and anemia, 29.3% aware of the relationship between potassium and overall cardiovascular/heart health, and 29.2% conscious of the immune-related benefits of zinc. Though non-calcium minerals are lower in importance, 62.8% are willing to learn more about their benefits.

Opportunities abound for manufacturers delivering a clear message regarding product functionality. Bone-, heart- and immune system-related benefits are just a few functions that can be positioned to address an existing ailment or as a preventative measure. This broader approach to fortification allows manufacturers to target a wider range of individuals, rather than focusing on a single demographic. Currently, 29.5% drink fortified beverages because they do not always eat right, and 35.3% are looking for a specific health benefit from a fortified beverage.

The general population rates the claim “Good Source of Calcium” as most important when consuming fortified beverages. More than half (52.6%) are interested in a calcium source that is better absorbed by the body. Consumers are increasingly understanding the connection between diet and health (84%). Many are reading labels more often, providing manufacturers with the opportunity to directly educate consumers on the benefits of value-added ingredients, such as mineral bioavailability. Studies by TNO (Delft, The Netherlands) show PURAC's calcium lactate and calcium lactate gluconate are as bioavailable as milk.

Some 43.4% of consumers would rather drink mineral-fortified beverages than take nutritional supplements/pills; 30.2% believe such beverages are vital to health.

Of mineral-fortified products, orange juice is consumed most often (52.1%), followed by milk (47.5%), fruit juices--non-orange (33.3%), sports drinks (31.3%), meal replacement beverages (24.7%) and powdered drink mixes (20.0%). The survey found consumers most interested in the addition of calcium to orange juice (46%), with calcium-fortified milk a close second (40.5%), then fruit juice--non-orange (31.4%).

For more information:
PURAC America, Inc, Sharon Rokosh, sr. market development specialist

+1-847-634-6330, ext. 227, s.rokosh@purac.com, www.purac.com