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Seattlebased Evolution Fresh is tapping into demand for functional beverages Getty Images
<p>Seattle-based Evolution Fresh is tapping into demand for functional beverages.</p>

For breakfast, think smoothies

<p><a href="/trends/consumer-trends">&bull; See more Consumer Trends articles</a></p>

New research from Mintel reveals that 39 percent of consumers use nutritional and performance drinks as a replacement for breakfast. What’s more, three in five (58 percent) consumers currently use nutritional and performance drinks as a meal replacement and 48 percent consume them as part of a meal, up from just 20 percent who used nutritional drinks as a meal supplement in 2012.

In addition to seven in 10 (69 percent) consumers agreeing that nutritional and performance drinks are a more effective source of nutrients, the majority of consumers agree that they are more convenient (79 percent) than whole foods. These drinks are also carving out their share of the snacking category as 80 percent of consumers view them as a great guilt-free snack.


Overall, 9 in 10 (88 percent) consumers agree that nutritional and performance drinks help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“The functional aspect of nutritional and performance drinks sets them apart from other drink categories at a time when consumers are looking for products that contribute to a healthy lifestyle,” says Beth Bloom, Mintel’s senior food and drink analyst. “Nutritional and performance drinks are the apex of convenience for the modern American lifestyle and diet, as consumers are moving away from three meals per day and are snacking more often. These beverages deliver on convenience, affordability and efficacy, a trio of positive advantages that appeal to today’s on-the-go consumers that are simply too busy to eat a sit-down breakfast at home.”

Overall, when purchasing nutritional and performance drinks, the most important factors for consumers are favorite flavor (41 percent), amount of protein (40 percent) and high fiber (33 percent).

Millennials are likely a driving force behind the move toward liquid breakfasts. A recent report from flavor consulting firm Fona International, “Millennials and Juice Beverages,” points out that millennials lead the pack in juice and smoothie consumption, using them as meals or snacks and for health and hydration. Fona also notes that label terminology matters, especially to younger millennials. Some 25 percent of men and 20 percent of women aged 18-24 “find organic, ‘free-from’ formulations and GMO claims influential in juice category decisions,” according to Fona.

But smoothies aren’t just breakfast fare for millennials, a different Fona study found. Millennials favor functional beverages across dayparts. “The day might start with a Muscle Milk and include a Monster energy drink to survive the mid-afternoon slump or late night study session. And no doubt a protein or sports beverage appears in between,” state the authors.

The good news: This target group has demonstrated a willingness to pay more beverages with these attributes if they perceive them to be healthier.

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