Plants first appeared on land 500 million years ago. Throughout human history, approximately 7,000 different plant species have been used as food. As consumers look for more unique, health-focused beverages, the use of botanical ingredients is on the rise. The Global Plant-based Beverages market is expected to reach $33.96 billion by 2026, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 13.3% from 2017 to 2026. According to a report by Zion Market Research, the global food botanicals market was approximately USD 1,186.1 billion in 2018 and is expected to generate around USD 1,489.3 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of around 3.2% between 2019 and 2025.

What are botanicals?

Botanicals are dried or fresh plants, plant parts, or plants which are isolated or combined chemical components, extracted in ethanol, water, other organic solvents, essential oils, oleoresins, and other extracts to be used for fragrance, flavoring, functional health benefits, and medicine. Botanicals have been used over an expanse of time in a wide variety of ways, including ingredients in beverages. There is evidence that as early as A.D. 150, gladiators of the Roman Empire ingested a drink made from the ashes of charred plants to promote healing.

What is behind the growing popularity of botanicals?

Many of the rising ingredient trends for 2019, which includes the increasing demand for function-focused, traditional medicinal, and niche and premium ingredients, are laying the foundation for further experimentation with botanicals. Consumers associate botanicals with a more traditional and natural approach to wellness and are increasingly seeking out foods and beverages that incorporate ingredients that help them achieve nutritional and emotional balance. Datassential reported 176% growth of turmeric on menus over the past four years, and Nielson cited almost $200 million in sales for ginger-flavored beverages in the last year. The growing demand for clean label and organic products also contributes to the popularity of botanicals. As consumers look for more ways to avoid artificial flavors and colors, they are increasingly open to the use of botanicals in a wide range of beverages from functional to craft beer and cocktails.

The Future of Botanicals

As demand for botanical ingredients grow, so too does the related expertise and technology. There are more transparency and traceability efforts in place along the supply chain as well as new and more affordable quality testing. New methods are being developed to help micro-encapsulate and disperse ingredients in better ways. There is also technology that improves extraction and helps deodorize and de-flavor ingredients. There has never been a better time to take a closer look at botanicals and their potential to inspire fresh and innovative beverage ideas.

Source: Botanical Beverage Basics