Today’s sports beverages offer more than support for athletes. Consumers can benefit, for example, from drinks enhanced with whey to help control weight, vitamins and minerals such as calcium to help them maintain health, and other ingredients that help with immunity, energy and overall fitness. The attraction is compounded by interesting flavors, achieved through taste modifiers, and the use of organic, natural and fresh ingredients. Participants in Prepared Foods’ 2007 R&D Seminars-CHICAGO learned about the latest beverage trends.

Mineral-enhanced Sports/Energy Beverages

Sports drinks and energy drinks are transforming to true “anytime” beverages, leaving an opportunity for fortification of everyday beverages with minerals, vitamins and other functional ingredients. Categories also are beginning to blur--for example, Anheuser-Busch Tilt Beer/Energy combines both alcoholic and energy ingredients in one beverage. Therein lies a great opportunity for juices and other intrinsically healthy bases to be mixed up in new ways.

People are looking to be less tired, to feel youthful, vigorous and athletic. Consumers also need quality sleep and stress reduction, as well as a balanced body chemistry. A delicious beverage that is good for them, contains bioabsorbable vitamins and minerals, is safe and natural, and meets hydration, performance improvement and quality of lifestyle expectations is just the ticket.

Average Americans fall short of the recommended amounts of calcium, magnesium and zinc, which can be related to diseases like osteoporosis and diabetes and affect the immune system, skin and endurance. Exercising exacerbates the need for minerals, as they are lost in perspiration.

Anytime drinks can incorporate calcium and magnesium to manage stress and promote good sleep, revitalizing the mind and body. Zinc promotes good immunity and muscle endurance, helping one to feel strong, youthful and vigorous. Energy is optimized with calcium and magnesium through insulin/glycogen management to drive proper energy metabolism. Calcium increases bone mineral content and muscle performance; it is suggested that it lowers blood pressure.

Sodium and potassium promote electrolyte balance. Sodium increases water absorption, stimulates thirst and retains water in the body. Potassium regulates cell water content, heart muscle function, nerve impulse transmission, skeletal muscle contractibility and blood sugar. Magnesium affects muscle contraction and energy synthesis.

Considerations for mineral choices in beverages are consumer needs, bioavailability and mineral load, solubility and ease of use, taste, buffering and the influence on the final formulation. Lactate and gluconate forms deliver on all attributes, including customizing flavor, since lactates tend to accentuate tartness and gluconates sweetness. The bottom line is consumers want delicious beverages, along with all of the health benefits. Sometimes help is needed to modify taste, especially with sweetener replacement, and  replacing citric acid with lactic acid can be a solution. There is no need to worry about lactic acid having a bad name in the sports world, because lactic acid and lactate in sports drinks may postpone fatigue, as they neutralize the lactic acid build-up naturally produced in the body and are insulin-independent energy sources. In comparison to other acidulants, lactic acid highly affects flavor intensity and all-around quality.
“Nutritious and Delicious: Mineral-enhanced Sports and Energy Beverages,” Gale Walters, account manager, Food & Nutrition, PURAC America, g.walters@purac.com, www.purac.com
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Whey Protein Fortification

The U.S. beverage market totaled $130 billion in 2005, with functional beverages consistently increasing in volume. Enhancing beverages with protein is happening in more than one segment of this category. The protein-fortified waters category--with key players being Nestle, Pepsi and Coke, as well as Kellogg’s K20--is predicted to reach $600 million in 2007. Isotonic beverages Gatorade and Powerade are competing with Accelerade, a protein-enhanced isotonic. Even juice and juice drinks are being enhanced with protein, as seen in Naked Juice, a Pepsi product.

Whey proteins can be the solution of choice for formulating great-tasting, nutritious and functional beverages that consumers demand. Whey proteins, the remnants of cheese manufacture, are made into ingredients at various protein levels in the form of concentrates, isolates and hydrolysates. The proteins found in whey include beta-lactoglobulin, which is the major protein in whey, alpha-lactalbumin, glycomacropeptide and minor amounts of bovine serum albumin, immunoglobulins and lactoferrin. Each whey ingredient can have differing amounts of protein, fat, minerals and lactose, affecting ingredient functionality. Other properties in whey ingredients, such as solubility and whey protein denaturation level, also affect functionality.

Whey proteins function in numerous ways in beverages. They affect hydration, foaming and product pH. Gelation and increased water-binding properties are obtained when using whey protein isolate and heat-treating the product at greater than 160°F, even at pH levels of less than 3.0. One thing to watch for, though, are whey protein isolate interactions with other ingredients. For example, gel strength increases to about 300mM sodium ascorbate, then decreases at higher mM. These ingredient interactions can happen immediately or during the shelflife of the beverage.

Another consideration is foaming. Whey proteins have a great air-holding capacity when whipped. If using shear that is too high for hydration of the protein, excessive foaming can occur, and this is detrimental to the final product quality. There can also be issues with foaming during the filling stage of the production process. Careful control of the process can control the foaming. At low pH, whey proteins can contribute to astringency in beverages, which can have a negative impact on flavor. When faced with this challenge, utilizing a pre-acidified whey protein can make a dramatic difference in the overall flavor profile and consumer acceptance of the beverage.  

Whey proteins offer a functional, cost-effective solution for the growing functional beverage category.
“Fortifying Beverage Profits via Whey Protein Fortification,” Starla Paulsen, applications department manager, Glanbia, spaulsen@glanbiausa.com, www.glanbia.com
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Using Dissolved Calcium in Products

As milk consumption declined in the 1970s, osteoporosis increased. This led to calcium-fortified orange juice, which was introduced in the 1980s. Since then, there has been a dramatic increase in the consumption of calcium-fortified orange juice, as well as widespread consumer awareness of their calcium needs.

Calcium levels in beverages can vary from 2-70% of the recommended daily value per serving. Calcium levels also vary widely in the ingredient used to fortify calcium. The type of beverage determines which calcium salts can be used.

For opaque beverages, insoluble salts can be used--if they have a small particle size and can be suspended using stabilizers. It also is wise to instruct consumers to “shake well before opening.”  For clear beverages, soluble ingredients are used, which will not precipitate during long-term storage. In dry mixes, soluble ingredients with delayed precipitation are acceptable.

Calcium-fortified orange juice contains high levels of fortification at 0.13-0.15% w/v of added calcium. Both soluble and insoluble calcium salts typically are used. In North America, the calcium currently used in orange juice includes tricalcium citrate, tricalcium phosphate (TCP) and calcium lactate (Coca-Cola patent), calcium citrate malate (also a patented ingredient), and TCP and calcium fumarate.

When selecting dissolved calcium ingredients, taste and stability are two related considerations. The costs associated with calcium levels, patent status, bioavailability and label declaration are other considerations.

Dissolved calcium can degrade beverage quality due to precipitation, coagulation of formula proteins, or gelation of low methoxy pectin and cloud loss.  Precipitation is influenced by calcium level and source, pH, acids, carbonation and other present ions. Two of the best soluble calcium ingredients are calcium citrate malate, which is patented, and calcium lactate gluconate, which is expensive.

When stabilizing dissolved calcium, it helps to increase the number of anion combinations. For example, a blend of citric and malic acids improves calcium fumarate solubility, as well as improves body and flavor. There are 26 possible anion combinations beginning with citrate, fumarate, gluconate, lactate and malate.

It is recommended to use multiple acidulants and multiple calcium salts for better solubility. Blends of calcium, magnesium and potassium improve body, flavor and stability. To prevent protein coagulation, the calcium protein ratio can be adjusted. Other solutions include using protein hydrolysates and sequestrants, as well as adjusting the pH away from the pI of proteins (4.5-4.6). The order of addition of the ingredients influences the rate of solution.
“Overcoming Formulation Problems with Dissolved Calcium,” Daniel Sortwell, Bartek Ingredients Inc., drs@usa.net, www.bartek.ca
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Creating Healthy Lifestyle Beverages

Driving demand for healthy beverages are advances in science and technology, rising health care costs, increased interest in self-care, a growing aging population, and evolving food marketing and labeling regulations.

The top global health and nutrition trends are weight management, immunity, purity, freshness, natural and organic. Other trends are “look good to feel good;” children’s nutrition, including healthy snacking and brain food; and mood food, including performance for brain and sports, as well as stress reduction.

There are 75 million baby boomers on their way to retirement, and graying Americans are looking to be in charge of themselves and their environments. This group is the most “health proactive” segment of the population. They aspire to be treated younger. Their food memories are linked to childhood, and they have a perception that food used to taste better, be more pure and natural.

Energy or lack of it is one issue facing today’s Baby Boomer. Two-thirds of American adults do not get the recommended eight hours of sleep per night. American adults work an average of 46 hours per week. Digestive diseases are also prevalent and costly to this population.

Beverages are the largest and fastest-growing segment of the functional foods category. They comprise 56% of functional foods and are easy to penetrate. There are more occasions per day for beverages, and it generally is easier to introduce healthy ingredients in liquid form. Among the many parameters driving product development is consumer understanding of health benefits of emerging ingredients like probiotics, prebiotics, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Acidified protein drinks are one popular beverage category open to fortification with functional nutrients.

Acidified protein drinks are normally at a pH between 3.8-4.5. They typically incorporate protein from whole milk, skim milk, whey or a vegetable source like soy. Acidification is accomplished by adding live bacteria (lactic acid fermentation), fruit juice or food acids. Protein drinks often need stabilizers to help keep the proteins in solution.

Hydrocolloids are often chosen to stabilize these beverages. When choosing a stabilizer, the pH compatibility should be considered. Characteristics of a perfectly stabilized, acidified protein beverage include: a homogenous appearance, no whey separation in the top, no casein sedimentation in the bottom, no deposits on the sides of a glass beaker, small particles, smooth mouthfeel and long shelflife. Overall, there are many formulation considerations, so, when in doubt, consult a supplier with expertise in the area.
“Creating Healthy Lifestyle Beverages,” Tracy Mosteller, Ph.D., team manager, Frozen Desserts and Beverages, Danisco, Tracy.mosteller@danisco.com, www.danisco.com
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Tying in Health and Nutrition to Beverage Brands

Marketing and R&D are forming cross-functional teams identifying global mega-trends, flavor trends and healthy brands. Team dynamics involve passion about innovation, team diversity and creativity. Issues for R&D personnel to consider are ingredient availability, mass production feasibility, food safety, cost, product stability and “fad” usage concerns.

Global consumer trends involve health and wellness, guilt-free indulgence, efficient nutrition, fun and pleasure, and convenience. Food flavor trends tend to be driven by demographics and lifestyle, while beverage flavor trends are driven by geographic influences.

The top flavors for non-alcoholic beverages through the 80s, 90s and 2000s have been orange, lemon, apple, strawberry and blends. In addition, there are also what are called “decade flavors.” In the 1980s, they were peach, grape and black cherry; in the 1990s, they were chocolate, raspberry, cola, and fruit punch; and in the 2000s, they are coffee, mango, green tea and pineapple.

What is next? Flavors that are moving up the demand curve include exotic fruits like feijoa, jujube, baobab, borojo, camu camu, cili, jaboticaba and guanabana. Basic flavors like banana, passion fruit, blueberry, honey, carrot, yogurt, cream, kiwi, pear, tropical, watermelon and mint are also increasing in demand, as well as certain blends of flavors. Blends such as the following are becoming popular: feijoa-mango, feijoa-starfruit, jujube-strawberry, baobab-citrus, borojo-lemon lime, camu-camu-blueberry, cili-starfruit, cili-raspberry and jaboticaba-vanilla.

When looking at market and trend implications and opportunities for a beverage brand, demographics and trend-based needs should be assessed. Knowing the market for various types of beverages assists with flavor choice. For example, energy drinks may have a different market than coffee drinks and also different flavor preferences. There are different groups of “best customers” for each beverage category.

Categories of alcoholic beverages have different typical users. For example, beer and ale typically is consumed at home by married couples under the age of 35, who have school-aged children. Whiskey and other alcohols are more likely to be consumed at home by those aged 65-74, who have high incomes and are college graduates. Wine characteristically is drunk at home by people between the ages of 45-64, who are college graduates, have high incomes and may not have children living at home.

There are “best customers” for coffee, milk, fruit juice, canned, bottled and fresh beverages. Bottled water and sports drinks also have specific markets. U.S. trends are now in “better-for-you” carbonated soft drinks, bottled water, dairy, juice, energy and sports drinks. Another emerging U.S. trend is a blurring of categories in beverages.
“Correlating Health and Nutrition to Your Beverage Brand,” Jessica Jones-Dille, industry trend manager, WILD Flavors Inc., Jjones-dille@wildflavors.com, www.wildflavors.com
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Understanding Taste Modification

Taste is the most important attribute in food products. When creating healthy products, achieving good flavor is sometimes an issue. For example, when reducing fat, other flavors can come through disproportionately, or when adding soy protein, a “beany” character may be introduced. Taste modifiers can improve the taste of food staples and often are used in meal replacement products, energy bars and sports drinks. They assist in improving taste of quick nutritional fixes to support on-the-go lifestyles. 

Taste modifiers are complex blends of flavor ingredients, which have little or no taste or smell on their own, but complement, enhance or otherwise modify the flavor of a food product. Undesirable flavors can be suppressed, while good flavors are accentuated.

Taste modification is embedded in our culture. When drinking a cup of coffee, we add sugar. Fat-free salad dressings often are sweet, because when the oil is removed, the acidity is disguised with sugar. As Mary Poppins said in 1964, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”

Taste is both psychological and physiological. Taste receptors are natural, self-defense mechanisms against potential hazards. The function of taste modifiers is to trick a person’s palate. Tricking the taste buds is done by a taste modifier phenomena known as adaptation, cross-adaptation, taste-blocking, taste modification, taste suppression and synergism.

Adaptation and cross-adaptation are a form of fatigue. The perception of a substance fades to almost nothing in seconds, when the taste buds are continually exposed to a taste stimulus. Cross-adaptation is when the adaptation of one taste may lower or increase the perception threshold of the other taste perceptions (coffee and sugar, for example).

Some known substances have the capacity to suppress all taste, and these are called taste blockers. Taste blockers also can repress a particular taste perception, such as cloves being used for oral anesthetic.

Taste modification is a phenomenon exemplified by the miracle fruit, which contains a protein called “miraculin,” that turns the perception of sour in a food into a sweet taste. Certain blends of sugars demonstrate both taste synergism and suppression. That is, when the sugar mixtures are used at lower concentrations, synergism with the perception of enhanced sweetness occurs. When used at a high concentration, the sugar mixtures show a suppression effect with less sweetness than would be expected.

Evaluating taste mixtures may be difficult. It requires understanding how each flavor component acts independently and together for specific needs. Food developers know that taste is a delicate balance and that modification is tricky. Consumers are not willing to compromise on taste.
“Taste Matters When Creating Healthy Foods: Understanding How Taste Modifiers Work,” Mariano Gascon, flavor lab director, Wixon Inc., mariano_gascon@wixon.com, www.wixon.com
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor