Consumer attention remains focused on healthy living, and functional beverages can be excellent tools to help meet nutritional goals. Speakers at a recent Prepared Foods’ R&D Applications Seminar share their beverage formulation tips.

Beverages–A Practical Approach to Matching, Calculating and Concentrating

The basic technique to matching a competitive beverage product is pretty much the same across the different beverage types. First, make an unflavored base that matches your target, then flavor it and color it to match the target. 

It is much easier to do this if your bases are the same. The first step is to measure your brix, titratable acidity (TA) and pH.  Other ingredients can be estimated by the ingredient label and the nutritional statement.  Brix is the total solids, so adjust the sugar level to make up for the acid and buffers that may be added. 

“I usually make up the sugar and acid, then add buffer to reach the pH of the target beverage,” explained Larry Hollis, technical director at E.A. Weber, in his Prepared Foods R&D Seminar presentation titled “Beverages–A Practical Approach to Matching, Calculating and Concentrating.”

In carbonated beverages, Hollis recommends to “first measure the carbonation level of the target; remove the carbonation by rapid mixing; then take brix, TA and pH measurements. Carbonated beverages are produced by either a pre-mix or a post-mix procedure. In a pre-mix procedure, the basically finished beverage is made, and then the whole mixture is carbonated. In post-mix, a concentrated syrup (usually 5+1) is made that contains all the ingredients and is metered into the bottle, along with the appropriate amount of carbonated water to give the finished beverage.

“In my development work, I use a post-mix syrup added to the bottle, with flavors and colors on top of the syrup, then [add] the appropriate amount of seltzer or carbonated water to it, cap and mix, taste and adjust,” Hollis noted.

Hollis works by weight in formulating or matching alcoholic beverages, but these numbers must usually be converted to volume, since the final Proof (two times the % alcohol v/v) is a volume measure. Again, make up an unflavored and uncolored base that matches the target, then start working on the color and flavor. “Often, alcoholic beverages should be tasted the next day—as some marrying takes place with the flavor overnight,” he added.

Dairy beverages can be matched by a pre-mix system, but then must be pasteurized by either HTST (high-temperature/short-time) or UHT (ultra-high temperature) processing. This is necessary to dissolve cocoa; activate the stabilizer system; and ascertain the temperature effect on the flavor. Functional beverages require not only characteristic flavors, but also masking flavors to cover up off-notes from vitamins or other functional ingredients.

Calculating a syrup from a finished beverage requires use of a standard Brix Table. This information can be used to calculate the percentage of each ingredient (except the sugar and water) to find the % w/w in the final syrup.

The trend is toward nutrient-dense, functional beverages, presenting challenges and opportunities in beverage development, as well as job security.

“Beverages–A Practical Approach to Matching, Calculating and Concentrating,” Larry Hollis, technical director, E.A. Weber, 847-215-1980, ext. 126,
—Summary by Elizabeth Pelofske, Contributing Editor

Quenching the Thirst for Beverage Innovation

With growing consumer attention on healthy living, functional beverages are viewed as tools to help meet nutritional goals. Consumer opinions toward performance drinks are that they are a more convenient, affordable and effective source of nutrients than whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains, reported Mintel in February 2015.

A big trend in functional beverages is protein. High-protein claims consisted of 40% of the new launches with popular claims in 2015, in the meal replacement, sports & energy drinks and “other beverages” categories. These edged out edging out high fiber claims, says Mintel. Protein source claims are on the rise, as well.

Antioxidants are likewise on trend in beverages, because of their association with improved immunity and memory, heart health and removal of free radicals. Antioxidant global sales are expected to increase from $2.25 billion in 2014 to $3.25 billion by 2020, according to Zion Research Analysis.

“When creating functional beverages, specialty ingredients are the tools needed to tackle the challenges in an ever-changing market,” explained Eric Malmi, scientist, Innophos Inc., in his presentation titled “Quenching Your Thirst for Beverage Innovation.”

For example, phosphates are multifunctional ingredients that can help deliver product success on many levels. Nutraceutical ingredients like minerals, electrolytes, antioxidants and macronutrients allow for health and wellness claims.

“When formulating for convenience, stability and shelflife ingredients that help control pH, buffering and sequestration can be utilized,” Malmi added. Ingredients are also available for texture control.

Phosphates, as mentioned, are multi-functional ingredients. Phosphates are the most common naturally occurring form of phosphorus. In living things, phosphates are a part of the RNA/DNA backbone, in the form of adenosine triphosphate for energy transfer in cells. Raw materials for phosphate salts come from natural sources but, when heated, phosphates combine to form chains of differing lengths including ortho, pyro, tripoly and hexameta, each with unique properties and functions. Calcium phosphates are often useful to beverage manufacturers for calcium fortification. Tricalcium phosphate is used in almond milk, due to its neutral pH and high calcium load. Fruit juice blends utilize dicalcium phosphate for its acidic pH, low buffering capacity required and calcium load.

Electrolytes, such as potassium, are essential for proper rehydration and maintenance of physiological functions. Potassium helps prevent muscle cramps during exercise; stimulates metabolism; and is associated with lowered blood pressure.

“Potassium phosphates, mono-, di- and tri-, are highly soluble, strong buffers which are quite useful in sports beverages. Hybrid drinks combine whey and potassium phosphate electrolytes to help recover, hydrate and energize,” offered Malmi.

Antioxidants, as noted, can limit the damage caused by free radicals associated with aging, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and cardiovascular disease. Botanical extracts contain concentrated levels of antioxidants, polyphenols and flavonoids. Cranberry extract, for example, is available in powders, suspensions and instantized versions.

Some antioxidant ingredients may be modified to improve their bioavailability. For example, quercetin, a flavanol, when modified with dextrin becomes 17 times more bioavailable than non-modified quercetin. According to research, quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties; may reduce allergy symptoms; supports the immune system; and enhances metabolism.

Enzymes, biological protein molecules that act as catalysts to complex reactions, can be added to powdered beverage mixes with less than 10% moisture to increase absorption of macronutrients. For example, studies have shown that proteases can increase absorption of free amino acids, beneficial for lean muscle mass and recovery. Amylases, which break down carbohydrates, have been shown to increase blood glucose by 23% without a spike in insulin—significantly improving time to exhaustion.

These, and a variety of other specialty ingredients, are available and can help address challenges in mineral fortification, stability and shelflife, and texture control. 

“Quenching Your Thirst for Beverage Innovation,” Eric Malmi, scientist, Dairy and Beverage at Innophos, Inc.,, 609-366-1387
—Summary by Elizabeth Pelofske, Contributing Editor

Originally appeared in the July, 2017 issue of Prepared Foods as Formulating for Beverage Innovation.