Adding botanicals to beverages is becoming big business! Consumers’ rising interest in natural, healthy beverages with exciting flavors has created an environment perfect for botanical beverages. From lavender coffee to turmeric lemonade to elderflower kombucha, see how manufacturers can use botanicals to give their beverages the “it” factor.
Global Growth of Botanicals
Research firm MarketsandMarkets projects the global botanical extracts market will reach $6.0 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 9%.1 The firm notes that the use of botanicals in the food and beverage industry is growing due to an increased demand for natural and healthy products, along with the trend of new food and flavor exploration among consumers.
In the U.S., consumers have become more aware of the benefits of foods and beverages with botanicals. Consumers are reaching for botanicals for their potential effects on things like joint health, immunity, digestion, cognition, blood sugar, and weight control.
Manufacturers are adding botanicals to beverages not only for perceived health benefits, but also for flavor, color, clean label appeal, and product differentiation.
Types of Botanicals
While the definition of a botanical can vary, it typically includes herbs, spices, and flowers, often in the form of liquid or powdered extracts. Extracts of roots, seeds, fruits, and vegetables may also be considered botanicals.
Some of the most popular botanicals found in beverages today are derived from:
- Grape seed
- Green tea
- Yerba mate
- Butterfly pea flower
Many botanicals have a long history of use in traditional medicine, though some are better known for their flavors and aromas. Since botanicals contain multiple actives, they have the potential to address a broad range of health concerns, which makes them particularly appealing to consumers.
Benefits for Beverage Manufacturers
Botanicals offer some exciting opportunities for beverage manufacturers. The benefits of adding botanicals to beverages include:
- Interesting and exotic flavor profiles (e.g., spicy, herbal, or floral)
- Flavor profiles that don't rely on sugar so allow for low sugar formulation
- Cooling or heating sensations (e.g., with ginger or mint)
- Health and wellness associations
- Natural caffeination (e.g., guarana, guayusa, and yerba mate)
- Clean label formulation
- Vibrant natural colors (e.g., turmeric and butterfly pea flower)
- Compelling romance copy on the botanical’s history, use, and geography
Botanicals work well in a variety of beverage types and are especially prevalent among kombuchas, cold-pressed juices, and alcoholic beverages.
Tips on Formulating a Botanical Beverage
To formulate a botanical beverage, first consider the base you want to use. The base impacts the product’s location in the store, competitive products, and target consumers. Botanicals can be used in juices, teas, lemonades, kombuchas, coffees, milks, waters (especially flavored and herbal waters), as well as hybrid versions of these.
Botanicals can supply natural caffeine, flavor, and color to carbonated soft drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks while adding a health halo. They can be combined to create unique flavor profiles in alcoholic beverages, such as beers and distilled spirits, to differentiate a product from the competition.
Next, consider your purpose in adding the botanical. For example, which health benefits do you want associated with your product? Are you looking for an impact on color, aroma, and taste, or would you prefer minimal sensory impact?
Botanicals often contribute flavors such as herbal, floral, grassy, earthy, and spicy that can have bitter back notes. This can be disguised by using an inherently bitter base or flavor system, such as coffee, dark chocolate, or grapefruit, or by using microencapsulation technology.
Microencapsulation is often used to mask the bitter off notes associated with many botanicals. Microencapsulation is a process that applies a protective coating (often made of oil or gum) around each particle of the botanical, which holds the flavors and aromas in. Microencapsulation can be used where minimal flavor impact on the product is required.
Custom Nutrient Premixes
Another innovation that simplifies working with botanicals is the custom nutrient premix. Since only minute quantities are needed of most botanicals, it can be difficult to ensure homogeneous distribution of the botanical during production. A custom nutrient premix can solve this by providing bulking.
A custom nutrient premix can also combine multiple botanicals (as well as vitamins and minerals) for easy addition to the beverage. Ingredients known for their bitter or unpleasant tastes, such as botanicals and B vitamins, are microencapsulated before they’re added to a custom nutrient premix.
Make Your Beverage Blossom
At Watson, we specialize in technologies like microencapsulation that support successful functional beverages. Make your beverage blossom with a custom nutrient premix from Watson!
1. MarketsandMarkets. (2017). Botanical Extracts Market by Source , Application, Form, and Region - Global Forecast to 2022. Retrieved from https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/botanical-extracts-market-3151938.html