Functional soft drinks on the road to recovery
Despite EU restrictions on health claims, the niche functional soft drinks market may finally be showing signs of recovery within West Europe, according to a focus piece on functional soft drinks in Canadean’s latest Quarterly Beverage Tracker.
Functional drinks, such as juice-based drinks and waters with added vitamins and minerals have been popular in countries such as France and especially Denmark, with both markets recording a better performance in 2012 compared to the previous year.
According to a focus piece on functional soft drinks, this growth is mainly due to the promotional efforts and distribution strength of the major brands, including Vitamin Well (launched in 2009) and Glaceau Vitamin Water (Coca-Cola) which quickly gained traction with consumers. Royal Unibrew also entered the market in 2012 with a sparkling vitamin enhanced variant of Egekilde.
Other countries in West Europe are expected to slowly follow Denmark’s example, with producer confidence improved by a recovering economy. France, for example, is likely to reverse its fortunes during 2013, with small growth anticipated in the functional segment. With the economy showing positive results, manufacturers have been more innovative and have introduced several new products.
The most notable is Oenobiol Beautific by Coca-Cola, developed in collaboration with Sanofi and currently distributed through 200 pharmacies across France. EU legislation continues to restrict the segment, with regulations imposed to ensure health claims are investigated and substantiated. As a very complex and costly process, smaller companies often prefer to add ingredients for which the benefits are already known to the average consumer.
Many return to traditional ingredients (such as elderflower) or choose superfruits (cranberry, pomegranate and blueberry) that contain natural antioxidants. According to Ian Browning, Analyst at Canadean, “consumers are generally becoming more informed about the importance of a healthy diet and this is likely to boost the functional soft drinks segment in the coming years.”