The Future of Global Functional Drinks Trends

The Future of Global Functional Drinks Trends

December 8, 2023
6 min read

Drinks that offer health benefits beyond simply hydrating us are known as functional drinks and became a hot topic in 2023. From kombucha’s gut health benefits to CBD-infused soft drinks, the functional drinks market is expanding and diversifying. The benefits that functional drinks claim to offer can be nebulous and varied, which means that different groups of consumers opt for different varieties. With gender and age playing key determiners in which functional drinks are most popular with different segments of society, let’s dive into the functional drinks trend and see where it may go in the future.

Current Functional Drinks Market

Across the world, the functional drinks industry has been growing in prominence over the last few years, with the US being a particularly notable market for drinks claiming to offer health benefits. However, though it has been a developing market, new food and drink launches claiming functional benefits peaked between 2019-20, and have plateaued since then. This is consistent across a range of global markets, with Europe, America, and APAC regions all seeing a lack of growth since 2020.

Interestingly in 2023, Mintel reported a gap between consumers in the US who consume functional drinks compared to those who are interested in consuming functional drinks. Less than half of those who claimed they were interested in consuming anti-ageing functional beverages actually reported consuming them.

This shortage in actual consumption is only partially based on a lack of interest, which implies other factors. The current climate of global economies including that of the United States could play a role. Consumers with less disposable income will purchase luxury products less frequently. And with almost a third stating that they drink functional beverages ‘as a treat’, the gap between interest and consumption could be due to household budgets.

Key New Product Launches

  1. Lo Bros Kombucha
    A recent successful product launch, Lo Bros kombucha describes itself as ‘full of probiotics’ and ‘naturally low in sugar’. Kombucha has been a favorite functional drink over the last few years, with its gut health benefits working well with great flavors. 
  2. Söta Calm Sparkling Organic Tea
    The Canadian company Söta launched an innovative product Calm Sparkling Organic Tea with adaptogens, which has proven popular in easing stress with over ten functional ingredients. 
  3. Kirin Plasma Sports Drink
    Finally, a new Asian product launch comes from Kirin and their Plasma Sports Drink which contains immunity-boosting functional ingredients to support your body while exercising.

Visit Mintel Store for our Full Range of Drinks Research

Functional Drinks Trends

In terms of what US consumers are drinking, soft drinks like juices, sodas, and dairy tend to be the most commonly consumed – in fact, around 70% of Americans consume these kinds of drinks regularly. Functional drinks trail significantly behind these firm favorites, with just over 1 in 10 American consumers drinking them regularly. Comparing this to the 1 in 4 American consumers who said that they look for functional benefits when choosing soft drinks, there is reason to believe that the functional drinks trend is perhaps slowing down.

Woman drinking a functional drink while sitting down surrounded by vegetables. Source: GettyImages

Which Functional Drinks Are Most Popular?

But for those who do still enjoy the benefits of functional drinks, what are the leading benefits that tempt consumers? By far the most popular feature of a functional drink is boosting hydration, with 7 in 10 consumers choosing functional beverages with this claim. Following that, drinks that boost immunity, reduce inflammation, and enhance brain power are widely popular with consumers. In terms of which drinks are consumed most frequently though, two other categories emerge as prominent. Drinks that enhance weight management and sleep are among the most frequently consumed functional beverages, with almost 80% of regular consumers drinking them multiple times per week. 

What Are Our Functional Drink Habits?

Those of us who regularly consume functional drinks seem to have varying habits, possibly speaking to the wide variety of options available. Almost half of consumers say that they drink functional beverages in the morning, with slightly less preferring the afternoon, and around a third drinking them in the evening. This signals a preference towards the beginning of the day. With energy-boosting and cognitive-enhancing functional drinks among the most popular types of functional beverages, a preference to consume them earlier in the day offers more opportunities to benefit from the drink itself. 

Who Drinks Functional Beverages?

Between men and women, men appear to favor products containing added protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and nootropics. In turn, women appear to consume products containing collagen, added vitamins, and probiotics more commonly than men.

Functional drink choices fluctuate across age groups as well as gender. People aged over 65 generally lag behind younger groups in functional drink consumption, but those who do drink functional beverages tend to choose those with added vitamins and electrolytes. Younger groups are overrepresented in purchasing drinks containing added fruits and vegetables, as well as added protein. Collagen, which is generally targeted at people in their twenties, thirties, and forties, unsurprisingly performs best with those aged 25-44.

Looking Ahead with Mintel

In terms of the functional drinks market at large, new product launches appear to be becoming fewer and further between. Fewer new functional drinks products were introduced in 2022-23 than in previous years. With a deep gap appearing between interest and consumption levels too, owing partly to tighter household budgets; the shrinking market appears to be in line with a shrinking consumer base. 

For those who are still consuming functional drinks regularly, there is a wide base of interest across the market. With different age groups and genders appearing loyal to different products and benefit claims, there remains a wide variety of consumers to target. Companies introducing new products may rest assured that though the trend towards functional drinks may not be growing, we are not seeing dramatic trends towards and away from specific products. Immunity boosters and cognitive enhancers alike are popular, with many other benefits finding a consumer base too.

Take advantage of our in-depth market research to sharpen your strategies and align with the latest trends in consumer behaviour.

Explore our extensive Drinks Market Research today.

Subscribe to our newsletter, Spotlight, to get free insights delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up to Spotlight

Mintel’s Most Innovative Food & Drink

Mintel is constantly tracking innovation, identifying trends and gaining insights. To learn more about the latest product innovations in the food and drink industry, download Mintel’s Most Innovative 2024 report today.

Download your copy
More from Mintel
  • US Functional Drinks Market Report 2023
    Use Mintel’s deep analysis of the US functional drinks market to grow your brand’s research strategy....
    Visit Mintel Store
  • A Year of Innovation in the Functional Food and Drink Market 2023
    Explore the latest innovations across functional food and drink in 2023, identifying evolving areas, consumer attitudes, and important advances....
    Visit Mintel Store
  • Mintel Leap
    Mintel Leap is a revolutionary new AI-powered platform that will transform your research process....
    Book a demo
Subscribe to Mintel Spotlight
Related articles

Download the Latest Market Intelligence