Thursday, February 21, 2013

Iced Tea, Lemonade, Juices and Drinks: 10 Trendy Beverage Concepts that Dairies Will Want to Deliver

Bottle, box, can, carton and jug—dairies put milk into these containers and many also package non-dairy beverages, most notably iced tea and lemonade. And while many dairies have shelf-stable fluid filling and packaging systems, the majority focus on fresh, refrigerated distribution.

Refreshments sold through the chilled channel are gaining appeal among today’s health-conscious consumers. This is because these perishable products suggest minimal processing and naturalness, two attributes that the growing number of consumers focusing on what they put in their body find attractive. And with beverages such as iced tea sporting a healthful halo (see section at end of blog that discusses tea’s better-for-you benefits), it is no wonder why more and more dairies are growing their refreshment line.

Today’s Consumers Want Better-for-You Beverages

The future of the beverage industry is nutritious and functional drinks made from high-quality ingredients and pure water, marked by an undeniable accountability for the effects of processing, packaging and distribution. According to Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert, “2013 is going to be a very interesting year for beverages, especially healthy beverages. The beverage industry is going to heat up. We’ve seen a war against unhealthy, high-calorie, sugary beverages and over consumption, starting with New York’s size regulation and Coca Cola’s advertising about obesity factors. Now, consumers are going to want to understand what makes a beverage healthy, and they’re going to want a variety of healthy options at their supermarket. Without a doubt, beverage manufacturers of all kinds need to prepare for certain change, as we’re entering a realm that may not be comfortable for antiquated beverage businesses."

Lempert will be the keynote speaker at Healthy Beverage Expo, which will be held June 7 to 9 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The event is co-located with World Tea Expo. For more information on Healthy Beverage Expo visit HERE; for World Tea Expo, visit HERE.

“The future is huge for healthy beverages,” says Lempert. “I anticipate more demand for healthy beverages and a very interesting product development cycle in the near future. Now is a critical time for the industry to delve into this segment. Indeed, recent news and attacks on unhealthy beverages and sodas has not changed behavior. So we need to get back to the basics and communicate and educate consumers; help customers understand the definition of a healthy beverage; make them aware of the healthy beverage options on the shelf; and promote the benefits of these types of drinks. And rather than trying to glamorize products, manufacturers need to emphasize the simple facts and ingredients of their beverages. In tandem, we need to keep evolving our healthy beverages in terms of taste. Because as we all know; if it doesn’t taste good--even if it’s healthy--consumers won’t buy into it. Taste is No. 1.”

Dairies are well poised to deliver on health and taste. And if it’s made by a dairy, it has to be good!

10 Trendy Beverage Concepts

Turkey Hill has long been a leader in the refrigerated ready-to-drink tea category. The company uses the tagline “Cold Fashioned for Freshness.” Some of the dairy’s more recent flavor combinations include Cherry Pomegranate Black Tea, Diet Blackberry Sweet Tea and Light Wildberry Green Tea.
For more information on Turkey Hill’s iced teas, visit HERE.
Less sugar and fewer calories is a growing trend in juice drinks. National Beverage Corp., recently introduced Everfresh ½. The juices, which come in six varieties--Apple, Carrot-Orange, Cranberry, Orange, Pineapple and Ruby Red Grapefruit—contain half the sugar and half the calories of their original 100% pure juice counterpart. The single-serve juices come in 16-ounce glass bottles.
For more information on Everfresh ½, visit HERE.
ITO EN now markets Teas’ Tea Plus half & HALF. This ready-to-drink tea beverage line is made from fresh-brewed green tea that is infused with fruits juices and other flavors. Varieties are: Coconut Water, Grape, Green Apple, Lemonade and Peach. Each 16.9-ounce square plastic bottle contains two servings, with each serving providing 50 calories. The drink is slightly sweetened with cane sugar and a touch of stevia. 
For more information on Teas’ Tea Plus half & HALF, visit HERE.

  The FUZE brand of uniquely flavored non-carbonated beverages, which is now under the ownership of The Coca-Cola Co., recently entered the tea and juice drink category. Varieties are: Berry Punch, Half Tea Half Lemonade, Honey & Ginseng Green Tea, Lemon, Strawberry Lemonade, Strawberry Red Tea and Sweet Tea.
For more information on FUZE Tea, visit HERE.

Another Coca-Cola brand—Honest Tea—is extending its reach in the kids’ beverage category with new Honest Splash. Designed for older kids, the new line of 70-calorie juice drinks will be sold exclusively at Target from mid-March until the end of June, when the drinks will roll out to other retailers. Each 12-ounce plastic bottle contains about 30% juice, its sole source of sweetness. Varieties are: Berry Good Lemonade, Goodness Grapeness and Super Fruit Punch.
For more information on Honest Tea, visit HERE.

In celebration of its 20th anniversary, AriZona Beverages has rolled out numerous new concepts, including the Golden Bear line. This lemonade concept pays tribute to legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus, whose nickname is Golden Bear. The line debuted in five varieties, Original with ginseng and honey (in regular and 10-calorie formulations), Mango, Mint and Strawberry. New flavors will roll out in 2013, with the first being Pink Lemonade. For more information on Arizona Golden Bear Lemonade, visit HERE.


The company also added a strawberry flavor to its popular Arnold Palmer line of half lemonade and half iced tea.
For more information on Arizona Arnold Palmer Strawberry, visit HERE.

Evolution Fresh Inc., a company acquired by Starbucks in 2011, continues to be creative with its juice and beverage concepts. The company is one of the few major juice companies in the U.S. using high-pressure processing (HPP) to safely deliver more of the flavors, vitamins and nutrients of raw fruits and vegetables. Evolution Fresh offers an extensive portfolio of bottled juices for sale through retail markets and select Starbucks stores.

Sold at a premium, varieties can be simple, yet unique. That’s what you get with Spicy Lemonade, which combines lemon, ginger and cayenne pepper. They can also be quite complex. Incredible Vegetables combines the juices from carrot, apple, celery, lemongrass, beets, spinach, lime, parsley and ginger, while Sweet Greens is a medley of celery, apple, cucumber, spinach, parsley, romaine, lemon, lime, wheatgrass and clover sprouts. For more information on Evolution Fresh, visit HERE.

Oceans Omega LLC, recently debuted Omega Infusion, a clear, zero-calorie, omega-3 fatty acid-enhanced water beverage. One 12-fluid-ounce bottle of Omega Infusion water delivers 40 milligrams of both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), 200% of the Daily Value of vitamin C and 80% of the Daily Value of vitamins B3, B5, B6 and B12. Flavors are Berry, Citrus, Fruit Punch and Orange.
For more information on Omega Infusion Water, visit HERE.

Abbott now offers Ensure Clear, a fruit-flavored nutrition beverage available in Peach and Blueberry Pomegranate flavors. Ensure Clear offers three times more protein (from whey protein isolate) than juice, along with 21 essential vitamins and minerals to help adults looking to fill dietary gaps. A first-of-its-kind in the nutritional supplement beverage category, this clear, fruit-flavored beverage was designed to attract new users to the category.
For more information on Ensure Clear, visit HERE.

For more information about ingredients used in the formulation of clear beverages, please link to this article I recently wrote on the topic for FOOD BUSINESS NEWS/BEVERAGE BUSINESS NEWS.

New Findings Released at the 5th International Scientific Symposium on Tea & Human Health
With tea being the second most consumed beverage in the world, next to water, interest in its potential health benefits has grown exponentially; in just the past five years there have been more than 5,600 scientific studies on tea, forming a substantial body of research on this ubiquitous beverage. Many of these studies were discussed at the 5th International Scientific Symposium on Tea & Human Health, which was held in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 19, 2012.
Among the findings is research suggesting that green tea and caffeine may trigger energy expenditure that may promote weight loss. Another study illustrates how tea may help counter the adverse effects of high-fat foods on blood vessels, which could possibly reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, the most common cause of death in the U.S.

“There is now an overwhelming body of research from around the world indicating that drinking tea can enhance human health,” said meeting chair, Jeffrey Blumberg, professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and Director, Antioxidants Research Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston. “The many bioactive compounds in tea appear to impact virtually every cell in the body to help improve health outcomes, which is why the consensus emerging from this symposium is that drinking at least a cup of green, black, white or oolong tea a day can contribute significantly to the promotion of public health.”

Tea and Heart Health
Numerous studies suggest tea supports heart health and healthy blood pressure, and appears to be associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, including stroke and heart attack. New research presented by Claudio Ferri, MD, University L’Aquila, Italy, found in 19 normotensive and 19 hypertensive individuals that black tea was able to reduce blood pressure. In the hypertensive patients, black tea appeared to counteract the negative effects of a high-fat meal on blood pressure and arterial blood flow. Hypertensive subjects were instructed to drink a cup of tea after a meal that contained .45 grams fat/lb. body weight. The results suggest that tea prevented the reduction in flow mediated dilation (FMD), the arterial ability to increase blood flow that occurs after a high-fat meal. In a previous study conducted by Ferri, tea improved FMD from 7.8% to 10.3%, and reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by -2.6 and -2.2 mmHg, respectively, in study participants.

“Our studies build on previous work to clearly show that drinking as little as one cup of tea per day supports healthy arterial function and blood pressure. These results suggest that on a population scale, drinking tea could help reduce significantly the incidence of stroke, heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases,” concluded Dr. Ferri. 

Tea and Body Weight 
Obesity is the largest public health concern in the United States and there are few strategies that provide long-term success. New research on tea catechins suggests that they may provide a benefit in maintaining body weight or promoting weight loss. In a comprehensive review of the published data on this topic, researchers from Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands, found that 24-hour energy expenditure and fat oxidation increased when subjects consumed green tea and  caffeine. The results of a meta-analysis suggest that the increase in caloric expenditure is equal to about 100 calories over a 24-hour period, or 0.13 calories per milligrams of catechins. In addition, green tea and caffeine also appear to boost fat oxidation over 24 hours by an average of 16% or 0.02 grams per milligrams of catechins. In a related review, researchers concluded that subjects consuming green tea and caffeine lost an average of 2.9 pounds within 12 weeks, while adhering to their regular diet.

Beverages now account for 20% of total calories in the typical American diet. “As tea is calorie-free, it’s an ideal choice to help consumers meet fluid requirements without adding calories to their diet, and the modest increase in energy expenditure and fat oxidation can also add to the role of tea as part of a healthy, calorie-controlled diet that promotes weight loss or maintenance,” explained researcher Rick Hursel, of Maastricht University, The Netherlands.

Tea and Bone and Muscle Strength
Osteoporosis is a major public health concern for many older women and men as the disease is responsible for two million fractures a year and 300,000 hip fractures in 2005. The disease leads to loss of mobility, independence and reduces quality of life for many older Americans.

Researchers at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center conducted studies with 150 postmenopausal women with low bone mass to see if the addition of green tea flavanols, Tai Chi exercise or both green tea plus Tai Chi could help improve markers for bone health and muscle strength in study participants. At the end of the six-month clinical trial they found that 500 milligrams of green tea extract (equivalent to four to six cups of green tea daily), alone or in combination with Tai Chi, improved markers for bone formation, reduced markers of inflammation and increased muscle strength in study participants.

“The results of our study are consistent with earlier work suggesting that green tea flavanols exert bone health benefits by reducing inflammation and providing antioxidant protection. Our work suggests that green tea and weight bearing exercise like Tai Chi may be an effective way to help improve muscular strength, reduce inflammation and improve bone biomarkers, which may help reduce the risk for osteoporosis and fractures among older Americans,” said Chwan-Li (Leslie) Shen, lead researcher, at Texas Tech University Health  Sciences Center in Lubbock, Texas.

Tea May Improve Mental Sharpness
Consuming black tea improved attention and self-reported alertness in a human study conducted by Unilever R&D, Vlaardingen, The Netherlands. In this placebo-controlled study, designed to measure attention, task performance and alertness, subjects drinking tea were more accurate on an attention task and also felt more alert than subjects drinking a placebo. This work supports earlier studies on the mental benefits of tea. In addition, two other studies provide a broader perspective on tea’s effects on psychological well-being, showing benefits for tiredness and self-reported work performance, as well as mood and creative problem solving. These studies provide support for tea’s benefits for mental sharpness, as measured by attention, mood and performance. 

According to symposium  presenter Suzanne Einöther from Unilever, “In our study with adult subjects, we found drinking tea improved attention and allowed individuals to be more focused on the task at hand. These effects were found for two to three cups of tea consumed within a time period of up to 90 minutes.”

Bioactive Compounds in Tea
The leaves of the Camellia sinensis (tea) plant contain thousands of bioactive compounds that have been identified, quantified and studied for their mechanisms of action. While many of these compounds act as antioxidant flavonoids, not all of tea’s benefits are thought to be solely from antioxidant activity.

New research presented by Alan Crozier of the University of Glasgow, UK, revealed that while many tea flavonoids in green and black tea are digested and absorbed, others are more resistant to digestion and travel mostly intact to the lower gastrointestinal tract, where they provide a probiotic effect by enabling beneficial bacteria to thrive. 

Tea Provides Profound Health Benefits
This data provide further evidence of tea’s potential role in promoting good health, perhaps due to the fact that tea flavonoids are the major contributors of total flavonoid intake in the U.S. diet:
  • Tea drinking may play a role in helping to prevent cells from becoming cancerous; 
  • Tea may play a role in enhancing the effect of chemotherapy drugs used for treating certain cancers; and
  • Flavonoids in tea, among other compounds present in tea leaves, may help ward off inflammation and vascular damage linked to chronic conditions associated with aging.
“As the second most consumed beverage in the world next to water, tea accounts for a significant amount of the flavanol intake worldwide,” stated Joe Simrany, president, Tea Council of the USA, which has been spear-heading this International Tea & Human Health Symposium since 1991. “This gathering of renowned global nutrition scientists is the world’s leading platform to release new research on tea, and acts as a catalyst for continuing research on tea in areas as diverse and novel as cognitive function, bone growth, weight management, cancer and vascular function.”

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