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A functional beverage is a non-alcoholic drink. Some include ingredients like herbs, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, or additional raw fruit or vegetables.
Functional beverages have become popular among people who want specific health benefits from their foods and beverages. Both convenience and health have been identified as important factors in consumers' decision-making about food and beverage purchases. Functional drinks are advertised as having various health benefits. For example, some claim to improve heart health, immunity, digestion, and joint health, while others promote themselves as satiating and energy-boosting.
The functional beverage industry is a subsector of the functional food and non-alcoholic beverage industry. It is the fastest-growing sector of the industry, partially due to the maturity of the carbonated soft drink sector and heavy investments by major food and beverage companies. Another reason for the industry's growth may be the consumer-oriented market scheme whereby innovative ideas come from consumers. By 2008, in the U.S., the market share of functional beverages accounted for 48.9% of the non-alcoholic industry, which is worth $118.3 billion.
In 2006, functional beverage consumption per capita rose to 66.4 gallons, while the carbonated soft drink sector saw a decline in per-capita consumption to 50.4 gallons (decreased from an average per-capita consumption of 192.5 gallons in 2006).
Functional beverage industry players are generally categorized into four types:
The functional beverage industry encompasses a wide range of varieties targeting different health-related concerns. One trend has been toward hybrid drinks, which are marketed as having benefits like thirst-quenching ability, with daily dosages of vitamins or other nutrients. Another trend is the rise of probiotics, exemplified by Activia yogurt, marketed for intestinal and immune health. Other beverages, like Function BRAINIAC, a carambola punch energy drink in the Function Drinks line, advertise improved memory and mental sharpness. Functional drinks marketed to children have also been developed, and received attention with Nestlé's Boost.
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