Dispatches from Vitafoods, Geneva

The taste test: How do you make a probiotic drink taste good?

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Probiotic fruit drinks face different challenges to their dairy counterparts - but both face the same requirement to taste good.

Vitafoods, a nutraceutical show, and Finished Products Europe took place in Geneva this month. One of the features was the Tasting Bar Awards, where attendees were invited to sample a number of functional beverage entries and then vote for their favourite. 

The winner was ProViva, a Danone fruit drink that is lactose-free and contains Lactobacilllus plantarum 299v (the strain is also used in GoodBelly drinks in the US).

The drink was launched in 1994, obtaining approval to make a product-specific health claim in 2003. At Vitafoods the winning drink was raspberry and blackberry, while the brand continues to expand its lines with two new citrus flavours launched earlier this year. 

Swedish biotechnology company Probi AB developed the bacteria for the drink. Linda Neckmar from the company tells BeverageDaily.com the result offers consumers “a good combination of good taste and a very good active ingredient.”

She explains there are challenges in creating probiotic juices - which differ from dairy counterparts - such as pH and shelf life demands. 

“[But] It’s very beneficial to have probiotics in a juice drink, because people with gusto intestinal problems often avoid dairy products,” she says. 

On the subject of taste, Neckmar also discusses how the beverages are sweetened, with some products using stevia. But how does that affect the taste?

“I think the product development team have done a very good job using stevia. Some people are sensitive to the taste of stevia, but I think they’ve covered it very well in the combinations they have with different berries and different flavours,” she said.

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