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The Flavor of Functional

July 2021 | Theresa, Marketing Manager

Consumers are expecting more out of their food and drinks than ever. Not only do they want products that taste good -- they also want products that provide functional benefits such as immune support, improved focus, and increased energy. Immune support has been increasingly popular due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with consumers seeking out alternative ways of maintaining their health. Products packed full of vitamin C, mushrooms, and antioxidants are of particular interest to many consumers.

Flavor is still just as important. But now, it should come with a healthy side.

Why This Trend Will Stick

Almost 90% of American adult consumers today look for functional benefits in their food, beverages, and, of course, supplements.

— Hartman Group 


“2020 has seen a major acceleration of consumer interest in the role of nutrition in immunity, with a 670% increase in Google searches for ‘food’ and ‘immune system’ between February and March.”

— Bev Industry

Supercharged Mushrooms


Mushrooms have become a much-beloved superfood in recent years. Their umami flavor and chewy texture make them a great plant-based alternative to meat products. They’re also packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, and more.

To take advantage of everything this superfood has to offer, Om created a Mighty Mushroom Broth designed for body and mind alike. It boasts a rich, earthy flavor, and is packed with Shiitake, Maitake, Turkey Tail, Lion’s Mane, Reishi, and King Trumpet mushrooms, alongside a variety of herbs and spices. These ingredients are said to boost memory, focus, immune health, skin health, and more.

Another easy boost of mushroomy goodness comes from Navitas Organics, which created a mix of ashwagandha and mushrooms for a daily boost of energy in their Superfood + Adaptogen Blend. With just a teaspoon added to a smoothie each day, this blend provides a quick punch of adaptogens and other nourishing ingredients, offering all of the benefits of mushrooms in an easy once-a-day drink.

For a sweeter option, look to Remedy Organics. Their Berry Immunity drink brings together the delicious fruity flavors of strawberry and dragon fruit with plant-based protein, adaptogens, prebiotics, and mushrooms. The recipe boasts lots of vitamins C and D for immune support, and works best as a meal replacement shake.

Antioxidant Power

Antioxidants are famous for their health benefits, said to reduce the risk of disease and promote overall well-being. There are hundreds of substances that can provide antioxidant benefits, including vitamins A, C, and E, manganese, beta-carotene, and selenium. In general, foods rich in color are also rich in antioxidants. It’s hardly surprising that berries are top-of-the-list, including cranberry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, and acai. In antioxidant-forward products, these berries are often combined with the flavors of other health-focused fruits such as guava or pomegranate, and citrus flavors such as lemon, lime, grapefruit, blood orange, and dragon fruit.


BUBBL’R’s antioxidant sparkling waters boast vitamins A and B, along with no sugar or artificial sweeteners for a refreshing, healthy beverage. Their waters come in many fruity flavors, including lemon lime, raspberry lime, pitaya berry, cherry guava, cranberry grapefruit, pomegranate acai, passion fruit, and blood orange. For an extra boost, guarana seed extract provides natural caffeination to these fun carbonated drinks.

Ocean Spray has brought the power of these antioxidants to coffee with their Ocean Spray Brew lineup. These drinks combine cold brew coffee with sweet fruit juices, with flavors including cranberry blueberry and cranberry lemonade. The coffee provides 40 milligrams of naturally sourced caffeine, which is the equivalent of a half cup of coffee. This comes with vitamins C and B, giving the coffee its antioxidant benefits.


  • Citrus and other fruit flavors are popular among health-focused drinks. There is ample room for incorporating less familiar fruit flavors alongside them, such as dragon fruit.
  • Consider fruits and flavors that hint at antioxidant strength; often flavors that have a bold or rich color have a correlation to immunity boosting power (i.e. berries).
  • Mushrooms provide a deep, earthy umami tone while also bringing a wide variety of health benefits. Look to include many different types of mushrooms to maximize the impacts.

Let’s collaborate on your next flavorful functional innovation. Contact your McCormick account manager or contact us today.