IFT09, naturally sweet!

Coverage sponsored by DSM

-Check out our photo gallery from IFT09

BevNET was on hand at this year’s IFT Show to sample the many cutting cutting-edge beverage concepts on display. IFT09, the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting & Food Expo, took place from June 6-9 in Anaheim, CA.

Getting the most play at the show was Rebaudioside A (Reb-A). A zero-calorie, naturally-derived sweetener, Reb-A was recognized by the Food Drug Administration as Generally Recognized and Safe and Effective (GRAS) in December of 2008; giving rise to a pile of new product launches including Trop50, vitamin water 10, and All Sport Zero.

Reb-A some believe represents a major opportunity to beverage manufacturers seeking to create all-natural, zero-calorie, sweetened beverages. Prior to REB-A’s GRAS recognition, the only all-natural/zero-calorie sweetener option was Stevia, the green leafy plant from which Reb-A is extracted. Though on the market for many years, Stevia-sweetened beverages never found much of a foothold outside the natural foods channel.

Due to its whole plant sourcing, some manufacturers steered away from Stevia because it presented difficulties in standardization and quality control. Additionally, Stevia is not GRAS, thus forcing Stevia-sweetened drinks to be labeled as dietary supplements. As a pure glycoside compound, Reb-A eliminates the quality control issues associated with Stevia, and has less of an aftertaste and none of licorice-like flavor of its parent plant.

If the beverages samples on display at IFT are indicative of beverage formulations that will reach the marketplace, then we can all expect to see a lot more of Reb-A in forthcoming beverages.

Functional Beverages

Nutritional functionality was, as it has been in recent years, a major focus for exhibitors at IFT. As ever, the challenge to food scientists and beverage marketers is to create beverages that are nutritious, functional, tasty, and appealing to consumers. Proof of concept beverage samples were available at dozens of booths, and BevNET was on the look-out for what might be the next big functional beverage concept.

Good for the Eyes (Lutein and Zeaxanthin)

One promising beverage functionality could be that of visual performance. DSM (sponsor of BevNET’s coverage of IFT09), provided BevNET with a 1 hour demonstration on the benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin on visual performance. These two antioxidants have been clinically proven to function in three ways related to vision: glare relief and recovery, contrast acuity, and protection from harmful blue light. Lutein and zeaxanthin are clinically proven to help prevent age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. DSM offers branded version of both ingredients as FloraGLO Lutein and OPTISHARP Zeaxanthin.

Muscle Building (soy protein)

Muscle-building beverages (such as Muscle Milk and Lean Body) have been hot recently. A major nutritional component to these drinks is their protein source, most often in the form of a dairy-derived whey protein. At the show, Solae sampled of its proof of concept “Muscle Builder” protein shake, fortified with Solae’s new SUPRO XF soy protein isolate. Solae claims SUPRO XF to have superior taste and improved solubility/viscosity versus existing protein technologies.

GI-health (prebiotics)

You may heard of probiotics (the gut-friendly bacteria that are found in yogurt and more recently in some beverages), but what about prebiotics? Prebiotics, long popular as a food and beverage ingredient in Europe, are fibers that are digestible to the gut-friendly bacteria in the digestive system; they are thought to have a positive effect on immune function, gastro-intestinal health, and calcium absorption. Domo sampled its Vivinal GOS prebiotic in a orange juice at the show. Nutritionally beneficial and without the formulation/bottling challenges inherent to probiotics, prebiotics may soon begin making headway in North America as a functional beverage ingredient.

Mental Acuity

Brain tonics and memory boosting beverages are still somewhat on the fringe of accepted beverage functionality. IFT, however, is about showing off formulations that push the envolope. Fortitech showed off a sample drink formulation which was fortified with a mix of brain-boosting ingredients including carnitine, choline, CoQ10, GABA, Gingko Biloba and phosphatidyl choline.

Fiber Power

The nutritional benefits of fiber have long been known, though the inclusion of fiber in beverages still remains a challenge to beverage formulators. ADM-Matsutani was sampling its Fibersol-2 ingredient, a digestion-resistant maltodextrin which ads fiber to the diet while helping mask undesirable effects of other nutritionals.

WILD Flavors sampling a whole grain Horchata, a traditional grain-based drink popular in Mexico and Central America. WILD’s sample beverage contained 8g of whole grains and 2g of fiber per 8oz serving.

Beautiful Bevs

Another hot area of beverage functionality on the show floor was beautifying beverages. Perhaps inspired by the success of early movers like Borba, beverage formulators are looking actively at ways to load up beverages with ingredients that improve appearance, primarily focused on skin health. DSM exhibited a beverage formulation that incorporated ingredients from its Beauty from Within nutritional platform.

Heart Health

Heart healthy ingredients are among the most popular functional elements in foods (think Cheerios), but they have been less commonly included in beverages. TandemRain Innovation displayed its bottled and designed concept tea brand “Cardio Balance”. The teas featured 300 mg of EGCG (an antioxidant found in green tea) and ActivMSM, TandemRain’s proprietary GRAS methylsulfonylmethane which is design to promote joint and cartilage health.

BevNET’s coverage of this year’s show is sponsored by DSM Nutritional Products. For more on DSM, visit www.pourontheprofits.com .

Check out our photo gallery from IFT09