What do you have on your shopping list this week? It probably includes at least one item with a functional ingredient. Protein bars to keep your energy up, probiotic gummies to support your gut biome, or turmeric mango green tea to boost your immune system. All are examples of how functional ingredients add value to otherwise ordinary products.
Functional foods and beverages offer consumers countless ways to pursue health or lifestyle goals through food choices. And manufacturers can add functional options to their assortment as a tactic for building market share and brand loyalty.
What’s Driving Demand for Infused Confections?
Infused confections are a subset of the larger functional food category with gummies a popular form. From apple cider vinegar gummies to mango CBD fruit chews, infused confections align with consumers’ desire to eat healthier and enjoy small indulgences that help relieve stress and anxiety.
Consumers are increasingly attracted to food with intrinsic health and nutritional benefits. Functional ingredients add value to food and beverage products by helping consumers pursue personal health goals. According to Innova, 10% of U.S. consumers increased use of products with functional benefits or active ingredients in the past year “to be healthier.”
The New “Functional”
Functional ingredients are expanding beyond physical health benefits. The effect of what we eat on our mental and emotional health is becoming more widely understood. No longer focused solely on physical health, consumers have a rising interest in how nutrition plays into emotional wellbeing. Brands are tapping into the need for products that promote feelings of comfort or relaxation.
New food and beverage launches with a “feel good” claim have an annual growth rate of 16%. In an Innova survey that investigated steps to address mental or emotional wellbeing, 25% of respondents chose foods and beverages that improved mood or provided comfort and relaxation.
The Expanding CBD Market
Interest in CBD-infused food and supplements to deliver health benefits is growing.
- Mintel found that 43% of U.S. consumers have either tried or are interested in trying food and drink containing CBD as a functional ingredient.
- According to the Brightfield Group, the CBD market may average 20% growth through 2025, and the forecasted growth of CBD products outpaces the cannabis market by more than 50%.
- Innova reported CBD/Hemp food and beverage product launches in North America are up by 88%.
Several factors are driving the trend of CBD as a functional ingredient:
- The broad appeal of a wider variety of products
- Growing awareness and publicity of CBD health benefits (help with stress, anxiety, and depression)
- Interest in CBD as an alternative to pharmaceuticals
- More mainstream distribution (CVS, Walgreens, Kroger, Walmart, and Albertsons)
- The increasing sophistication of marketing efforts from CBD companies
Opportunities to Stand Out with Infused Confections
Whether you’re focused on providing consumers with energy, vitamins, medication, or other functional benefits in confections, flavor improves the experience.
Use Flavor to Connect with Consumers
Flavor profiles that complement functional ingredients can increase the trial and acceptance of confections. For products offering natural, effective health benefits, consider flavor profiles associated with wellness, refreshment, and relaxation, such as:
Fresh, natural tastes that align with consumer perceptions of health and wellness could include:
Combination profiles can deliver complex or globally inspired tastes:
- Blueberry vanilla
- Dragon fruit watermelon
- Strawberry hibiscus
- Lemon lavender
Build Loyalty by Exceeding Customer Expectations
Perhaps unsurprisingly, early 2020 found many consumers looking for ways to care for their mental and emotional wellbeing. The use of CBD gummies and other products increased significantly, with a Brightfield Group survey revealing 29% of respondents purchased CBD gummies in Q1 and 47% bought in Q2.
Despite the growing interest, consumer experience with CBD confections reveals an opportunity to improve satisfaction. Only 50% of buyers reported satisfaction with gummies, yet almost 90% went on to repurchase. A brand that can deliver great-tasting products while consistently delight customers with innovative offerings will establish trust and win brand loyalty.
Overcoming Formulation Challenges
The ingredients providing the benefits consumers demand often contain off-notes and carry tastes that most consumers find unpleasant.
Bitterness can occur within infused confections and become an obstacle to customer satisfaction. The formulator’s challenge involves science and art to balance processing and masking techniques with flavors that complement off-notes and distract the taste buds.
For example, to manage bitterness with CBD-infused confections:
- Remove as much of the associated terpenes and flavonoids from the original extract as possible.
- Select flavors to surround the bitterness and create a more pleasing profile.
- Ensure all non-active components of the formulation have little to no taste.
- Use a flavor masking agent by
- Replacing part of the extract
- Independently adding it to the finished product or blend with the extract
Finding the Right Gummy Base
Exploring different gummy bases can help identify the foundation that best supports flavor delivery for your infused confection.
- Gummies are easy to formulate
- And flavor masking can be favorable with CBD/THC gummy formulations where bitterness is a concern
- Gummies are easy to formulate
- Some flavor masking is achievable, but flavor intensity is often still strong
- Gummy texture is solid, but soft, offering more of a melt-in-your mouth experience than chewy.
- Gummy formulation is more complex but requires minimal-to-no flavor masking for bitter notes
- Pectin generally creates a softer gummy with a shorter shelf life. Product may need more stabilizers and higher sugar content to set.
Keep in mind that working on a smaller scale production might mean more formulation nuances to dial in. Working with a flavor expert can help you work through formulation challenges and speed your time to market.
FlavorSum collaborates with you to deliver sweet solutions by overcoming barriers to customer satisfaction, such as bitter tastes that can occur with infused confections.
When creating an infused confection, it’s essential to understand the usage rates of your functional ingredients since many carry off-notes that can affect taste. Because flavor profiles
can change when functional ingredient dosage is high, our team works with you to identify a solution that meets your objectives.
Consistent Potency Options
FlavorSum will recommend specific bases and flavors that work well together and align with consumer expectations to ensure consistently great taste. Our emulsion portfolio delivers the right level of flavor, and our masking capabilities help optimize the taste.
After identifying the optimal flavor and base combination, our application scientists evaluate the flavor to confirm results. We partner with you to validate that the flavor performs well in your confectionary product.
At FlavorSum, skilled team members use innovative technology and expertise to provide flavor solutions that enhance infused confections and keep pace with consumer needs. We offer:
- Natural and Organic Certified Flavors
- Liquid and Dry formats
- Sweetness Optimization for low/no sugar products
- Taste modulation to mitigate taste impact of functional ingredients
Find Your Formula for Success
Our dedicated group of flavor professionals works with you to deliver the affordable solutions you need to speed your time to market, extend your in-house capabilities, and achieve unmatched reliability. Reach out to our team for help with your infused confections!