Tea, juice & functional beverages lead the way for ginger’s charge

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock / Elenathewise
© iStock / Elenathewise
Combining a unique and instantly recognizable flavor and a myriad of potential health benefits, ginger is ‘coming on strong’ in the beverage space, say the beverage gurus at Imbibe.

“Ginger is a versatile flavor that works in products from nearly any category like soda, coffee, tea, juice, enhanced water, and functional beverages. The flavor and health benefits associated with ginger make it a very appealing ingredient to use to add value to a beverage,” ​Holly McHugh, marketing associate at beverage development firm Imbibe, told us.

According to data from SPINS, the biggest category for ginger as the primary or marketed functional ingredient is shelf-stable teas, which has seen steady, double-digit growth over the last four years. In 2014 (52 weeks ending January 31), the category was about $23 million, and had grown to $35.6 million for 2017 (52 weeks ending January 28). This was composed of data from the natural, specialty gourmet, and MULO channels.

The next main category featuring ginger is refrigerated juices and functional beverages, which was valued at only $92,245 in 2014, but grew to $2.4 million in 2017. Shelf-stable juices is another growth category, rising from a small base of $60,139 in 2014 to $703,806 in sales in 2017. 

“Products with ginger were everywhere at Expo West,” ​added McHugh, “like The Ginger People Turmeric Latte Mix with elephant ginger, Chameleon Cold Brew Sparkling Cold Brew in Ginger, and Uncle Matt’s Organic Blueberry Ginger kombucha.”

Health and wellness

Ginger is most commonly associated with digestive health and calming an upset stomach. In dietary supplement circles people are already making comparisons to turmeric and curcumin​, which is among the hottest botanical ingredients.

OmniActive offers the Gingever-branded high potency ginger extract for dietary supplement applications, and Brian Appell, the company’s marketing manager, recently told Nutritional Outlook​: “Turmeric continues to grow, but I think we’re getting to a point where people are asking, ‘What’s the next turmeric product? What can be a superstar like turmeric, do all the great things that turmeric potentially does, but isn’t a novel ingredient that’s going to take years to develop?’ That’s where ginger comes in.”

In the beverage space, we’re already seeing that cross-over between turmeric and ginger. California-based The Ginger People, which offers a wide range of ginger-based products, launched three new turmeric-infused drinks at Expo West 2018.

“We’re all looking for something healthy yet tasty that is closer to the earth, and we believe turmeric is something people believe in,”​ said Abbie Leeson, co-founder of The Ginger People. “Like ginger, it’s another great example of a functional food that tastes good and ‘does good’.”

The company also launched 2oz Ginger Rescue Shots, caffeine-free shots targeting the energy category. “These are ‘rescue’ shots because ginger rescues the body in so many ways,”​ said Leeson.

Ginger Shots

Another California company called Ginger Shots​ (launched in 2015) offers six varieties of organic, cold-pressed ginger shots, sold in stores and online.

“Many cultures have long considered ginger to be the ‘secret to a healthier life’,” ​states the company’s website. “For centuries, people around the world have been using it to not only spice up cuisine, but also for its perceived health benefits. As a fibrous root, ginger can be difficult to incorporate into your everyday life. Which is why we created Ginger Shots.”

The rhizome of the ginger plant (Zingiber officinale​) is a rich source of antioxidants, including gingerols, shogaols, zingerones and other ketone derivatives. It has been reported to possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-proliferative activities.

Because of this anti-inflammatory potential some researchers have explored the potential of ginger to reduce or prevent muscle damage and soreness after exercise, opening up potential sports nutrition applications.

Data from a clinical trial published in Phytotherapy Research​ in 2015 indicated that a four gram dose of ginger for five days pre-exercise was more effective than two grams for accelerating recovery of muscle strength following muscle damage.

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