Mls over pills: Are drinks a tastier way to take your vitamins?

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Move over large, bland multivitamin pills; energy juices and smoothies are becoming the preferred method of getting your daily quota in Asia, but is Europe following its lead?

Germany is leading the activity in Europe, with the amount of energy juice launches increasing from 3% to 5% between 2012 and 2015, Mintel data shows.

European manufacturers have also begun to move away from caffeine and sugar-filled drinks in favour of juices and shots packed with vitamins and minerals.

The popularity of these multivitamin drinks and smoothies can be attributed to the pleasant taste and texture they boast compared to large, medicinal-tasting pills, Mintel added.

Functional drinks, commonly found in small bottles or ‘shots’, also appeal to people who are constantly on the move and are looking for a natural boost on the go.

Food and drink analyst at Mintel, Julia Buech, said: “In today’s fast-paced world, the development of energy-boosting products represents a major opportunity for juice brands, with both “hard” stimulants like guarana and “soft” stimulants like vitamins providing viable positioning routes”.

A chia seed smoothie to go

Guarana, a common stimulant used in energy drinks, was used in one in five energy drink launches in Europe between 2014 and 2015, whereas one in seven launches in Germany included vitamins and minerals to affirm their positive positioning.

As well as delivering an energy boost, juices are now claiming other health benefits through adding extra protein, fibre, calcium, vitamins and antioxidants, Mintel’s analysts told NutraIngredients.

One of the most common ways this has been achieved is through the inclusion of ‘supergrains’ and ‘superseeds’ in ingredients lists.

Chia seeds have become the most popular throughout Europe, followed by linseeds, quinoa and wheatgrass, enabling the drinks to gain status of a healthy snack.

Shots are mainstream

Reports by Canadean show consumers are now more aware of their health than ever and are actively seeking products with nutritious qualities.

“Our research shows that 63% of consumers believe plant botanicals or extracts will have a positive impact on their health. The increasing trust that consumers have for formulations including superfood extracts is therefore widening the possibility for manufacturers to incorporate superfood ingredients within their products across several sector,” said Lia Neophytou, associate analyst at Canadean.

Shots are becoming more and more mainstream in the European market, particularly in the UK where they are now a supermarket staple.

Brands such as Scheckter’s organic energy drinks can now be food in the ‘Food to go’ aisle of most UK supermarket brands, rather than only being found in health stores.

However, figures from Canadean conclude that overall sales of functional drinks in Europe has fallen over the last five years by 581 million litres.

In Asia, use of functional drinks has been commonplace for many years and is still increasing.

Sales figures for this market have more than doubled, from 4, 071 million litres (2010) to 8, 279 million litres (2015), with China alone making up half the amount (4, 602 million litres).

Mintel’s recent China report on juices show purchase of drinks with nutritious benefits increased substantially in 2015-2016, compared to 2013-2014, as consumers in China are looking for something extra from fruit juices.

Furthermore, juices which claim to have beauty benefits would encourage 19% of Chinese consumers to purchase the product.

Research analyst, Lei Li said “Juice products with beauty benefits are most likely to attract women, with claims such as aiding beauty with vitamins and restoring radiance to the skin.”

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