Honey Prime Sweetener for Functional Beverages

RTD Tea cropped

Comfort, immunity, nutrition, all-natural — we’re seeing these trending words driving consumers’ wishes and needs in the functional beverage category. And, although many functional beverages on the market use good-for-you ingredients, they’re still working toward finding a better taste. Honey not only masks unpleasant flavors that may pop up in functional beverages, but it also brings familiarity to drinks.

Adding to the excitement of honey in beverages is the fact that it’s not just a sweetener! It’s all-natural, unprocessed, and delivers natural energy through the form of carbohydrates. In terms of further functionality, research has shown that honey has a variety of phytochemicals (as well as other substances such as organic acids, vitamins, and enzymes) that may serve as sources of dietary antioxidants. In fact, flavonoids and polyphenols, which act as antioxidants, are two main bioactive molecules present in honey, says the U.S. National Institutes of Health

Beverage Daily says that the functional beverage trend will gain momentum beyond 2020, “as consumers become more conscious about their health due to COVID-19.” Consumers are looking to reduce sugar intake, with 80% of consumers saying they are “planning to eat and drink more healthily because of COVID-19,” according to a FMCG Gurus study conducted in May. Driving demand in the category includes alternative beverages that possess a functional benefit, with consumers turning away from juices and soft drinks unless they include some sort of immunity benefit. 

A recent functional beverage webinar shared data from flavor company Givaudan, which shared what wellness benefits were of high value to consumers ages 18-64. Energy, heart health, immunity, stress reduction, and brainpower all ranked highest on the current COVID-19 functional beverage wish list. Drinks that included ingredients like green tea, ginger, hibiscus, cranberry, echinacea, and acai also made the list. 

Beverage manufacturers are increasingly looking at honey as a prime ingredient in functional beverages, as evidenced by these new products hitting supermarket shelves.

Turkey Hill’s Diet Green Tea with Ginseng and Honey combines two sought-after ingredients in one gluten-free RTD beverage. There are no added sugars in this drink, which contains only five calories per serving.

Photo Credit: Nature's Way

Nature’s Way takes honey, lemon-berry, vitamin C, and organic echinacea and combines them for Sambucus Hot Drink. The drink mix is kosher and gluten-free.

Teavana has released its Defense lineup, and one made-with-honey drink, Orange Cinnamon White Tea, contains orange peel, cinnamon, blackberry leaf, and added vitamin C for a honey-kissed combo.

We want to hear from you! Which of these new made-with-honey beverages do you want to try? Let us know in the comments below.