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Natural Flavours in Beverage

The new-age wellness consciousness and clean-label movement have triggered a rise in interest for natural ingredients across food and beverage segments. More recognizable, easy-to-pronounce and familiar ingredients are more in demand than their artificial, complex counterparts. According to a recent global survey, 71% of consumers today are avoiding artificial flavours; 63% are avoiding artificial colours. This trend is particularly evident in beverages than ever before. 

Natural flavours are derived either from oils or extracts of citrus, spices or florals and also from other processes involving bio technology. They are obtained from vegetable or vegetable juice, fruit or fruit juice, spice, plant material, seafood, or meat.  Consumption of artificial food additives is growingly being associated with negative health effects by consumers, leading to an organic shift to natural flavouring beverage industry. 

Growing Market for Natural Flavours

The valuation for the global natural flavours market was USD 11.47 Billion in 2018, and it is forecasted to reach USD 20.04 Billion by 2027. Natural Flavours in the dairy and beverages sub-segment had the highest market share and the highest growth rate of 6.0% during the forecast period. The beverage flavouring systems market alone is projected to grow from USD 3.8 billion in 2018 to USD 5.2 billion by 2023. 

The market for natural flavours is expected to cross the market share for artificial flavours. This inclination towards natural flavours in the food and beverage industry is due to the following reasons:

  •  Consumers are conscious about their health and are willing to spend on ‘healthy’ products.
  • Rise in demand for clean label products.
  • Changing lifestyle coupled with high rate of urbanization
  • Evolving technological innovations in food & beverages manufacturing industry

Industry Interpretations

An article by Healthline, 2016, claims that the term ‘natural flavours’ that appear on packaging labels are not much different from artificial flavours. This is because the FDA permitted the use of synthetic additives such as preservatives, emulsifiers and solvents in the processing of natural flavours, and gave the freedom to food and beverage manufacturers to not disclose these synthetic additives in their ingredient statement. Nevertheless, companies, in the recent years, have been taking into consideration the demands of consumers and are setting up their own quality standards for natural flavours and minimizing the use of synthetic additives. Food Business News claims “organic foods and beverages can contain natural flavourings that have as little as 30% material from the named source. In 2021, this threshold will change to 95%” with improvements in technology. Biotechnology is gaining importance and shows improvement in the field of natural flavouring. It also offers an alternative to produce flavours that can harm the environment. As the demand for healthier and ‘better’ natural flavouring alternatives grows, biotechnology will be the foundation for the food and beverage industries giving consumers a plethora of natural flavours to choose from. 

Popular Natural Beverage Flavours

Flavouring in beverages is complicated. It is not only the taste that matters but also factors like colour, consumers’ judgement of visual appeal, smell and texture. Therefore, it is important that flavouring in beverages is formed by a symphony of these senses. 

Floral flavours such as jasmine and hibiscus have long been a favourite. These flavours are derived from seeds, herbs, flowers or root that not only provides a satisfactory taste but also several health benefits. Floral flavours combined with fruit flavours such as lavender, rose blossoms, orange blossoms are finding their place in beverage recipes.  

Rose flavours are an emerging trend, gaining popularity in Europe and Asia. Trends on Rose-flavoured energy drinks, rose flavoured tea, rose flavoured vodka, gin and beer are driven mainly due to its aesthetic appeal, which is an important factor for millennials to post on social media. 

Fruit Flavours remain a favourite, especially to the older generations who are likely to incline towards nostalgic and familiar flavours like mango and strawberry, while the chocolate flavour remains a favourite among all age groups. Tangy flavours like orange, grapefruit and lemon are combined with pink grapefruit, lime, yuzu, mandarin, pomelo, kumquat, kaffir lime and the kaffir lime leaf to satisfy the adventurous side of consumers. 

The hot and spicy flavour of cayenne makes it a particular favourite for many consumers, and cayenne flavour, such as that produced by natural chili pepper (cayenne) essence and organic cayenne pepper extract, is used in a number of applications. Cayenne flavour is a common component in many beverages, often times combined with fruit flavours like mango or lime. Chili, habanero and jalapeno are other pepper flavours expected to represent an inventive and use of traditional ingredients.

The ultimate goal is to improve mouthfeel perception and taste satisfaction in order to attract new customers and retain loyal customers, keeping in mind the various concerns such as health, transparency, reducing artificial ingredients and so on. The natural flavouring industry will gain a significant role in the beverage industry. 


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