The cornerstone of a multibillion dollar industry, beverage formulation is the science behind creating beverages for the masses. There are thousands of different beverages and formulas on the market today, and while many start in the home kitchens of beverage entrepreneurs, almost every recipe has to be adjusted for mass production, marketing, and distribution. In order to be marketable, beverages have to be created in line with government regulations, contain preservatives or be processed in a certain way to ensure solution stability and longevity on store shelves, and designed with ingredients that capitalize on emerging market trends. The following is an overview of the major types of ingredients and their roles in beverage formulation.
Flavors and Sweeteners
Both an art and a science, beverage formulation involves finding the right balance of ingredients and flavors that lead to the flavor profile of a great tasting and enjoyable beverage. Flavors and sweeteners may be artificial, natural, or organic depending on the type of beverage and its target market. Flavor modifiers like mint can add distinct and memorable effects to a flavor profile. Potentiators can intensify an existing flavor. Formulation specialists can discover the best formulas to accommodate a desired flavor and accentuate a beverage’s finer points.
Now more than ever before, consumers are looking for beverages with function: energy drinks, energy shots, muscle milk, probiotic yogurt shots, and healthy fruit smoothies are just some examples of beverages that are both refreshing and provide an extra function for consumers. Superfruits like mangosteen are rich in antioxidants, provide unique flavors, and greatly improve the health factor of a beverage. Caffeine is a common stimulant used to provide a rush of energy to help consumers get through their day. Whether it is for health or energy, formulation specialists can work a number of functional ingredients into a beverage.
Emulsifiers, Stabilizers, and Preservatives
If a beverage is to remain consistent through transportation and last long on store shelves, emulsifiers, stabilizers, and preservatives must be added to a formula to allow beverages to succeed in the retail market. Emulsifiers allow a manufacturer to use ingredients that would otherwise separate in a mixture, opening new avenues of innovation for flavor profiles. Stabilizers prevent the chemical composition of a solution from changing over time, allowing a beverage to remain fresh and consistent in its flavor. Finally preservatives help increase the shelf life of a beverage ensuring microbes, and other factors don’t spoil the product. As an alternative to preservatives, the beverage can undergo certain types of processing to increase shelf life and prevent microbial growth.
Beverage formulation specialists market tests their products to ensure that the final flavor profile has the widest market appeal. Depending on the consultant, the formulation specialists may have access to custom built research and development equipment and a large library of flavors, nutrients, nutraceuticals, sweeteners, colors, and other raw ingredients. By working through a consultant it is possible to have access to a host of resources, including experienced marketing and sales teams that know how to take a finished beverage to market and build new beverage brands.