More energy, better sleep, enhanced focus, gut, bone, and cardiovascular health, weight management, hydration—in response to consumer demand, the beverage industry has begun to focus on benefits that might sound more like an all-inclusive spa. Indeed, according to Datassential, 80 percent of U.S. consumers are interested in functional beverages that deliver targeted health benefits, with 42 percent saying they’re “very” or “extremely” interested.
“Consumers are looking for healthier alternatives to high sugar and artificial ingredients. Largely, it’s an effect of post-COVID that’s driven the increase in the consumer demand for better-for-you beverages. Historically that need has been met by ready-to-drink products. However, we are seeing a growing demand for dispensed functional beverages in foodservice,” says Chris Johnson, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Javo Beverage. The data shows that 78 percent of consumers want restaurants to offer more functional beverages, and 22 percent are willing to pay more for them.
Javo’s new line of functional beverages bring quick-service restaurants products that deliver on the most sought-out functional attribute for consumers, which is energy. Javo’s three new lemonade-based energy beverages feature a unique combination of on-trend and emerging flavors including Pomegranate Pineapple, Peach Honey, and Blackberry Lemon. These flavors—combined with clean label ingredients, including caffeine and L-theanine naturally derived from green tea—deliver a differentiated beverage that provides sustained energy and focus without giving consumers the jitters or a caffeine crash.
“We’re an extraction company at our core. That’s what Javo does—pure extracts of coffee, tea, and botanicals,” Johnson says. “We’re providing clean energy by way of extracting these natural ingredients with purified water.”
Through Javo’s recent merger with FFP, they have combined their unique extract capability with a full portfolio of natural flavors and human nutrition inclusions, including nootropics like L-theanine, to formulate clean label, cutting-edge beverages. “Now we have all the ingredients ‘under one roof’ and the expertise to use them in formulation. In addition to our branded offerings, we specialize in creating innovative and proprietary beverages, giving us and our customers a competitive advantage,” Johnson says. This speaks volumes as quick-service restaurants look to elevate their beverage programs.
“The major consumer branded companies are placing big bets on functional beverages and are primarily focused on energy as a platform. There is also buzz in the industry from fast casuals that are following suite through their dispensed beverage programs. The path is clear for quick-service restaurants to capture some of that growing share and consumer demand from inception,” says Johnson.
The consumer demographics most interested in functional beverages dovetail with those targeted by quick-service restaurants.
“Millennials and Gen Z are the biggest piece of the pie,” Johnson says. “They’re frequenting the leading coffee shop chains, who are clearly engaged here in a big way. Coffee shops were early adopters to functional beverages and quick-serve restaurants should be fast to follow to avoid lost beverage sales.”
“There’s nothing unique about offering a branded RTD energy drink because the industry is oversaturated with them, driving down the consumer appeal and price point. That holds no value in a quick-service restaurant’s individual brand identity. In today’s competitive landscape, the opportunity to create uniqueness lives in dispensed functional beverages and proprietary development with partners like us,” says Johnson.
To learn more, visit Javo Beverage’s website.
By Jocelyn Winn