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Beverage Formulation: The Science and Practice Behind Creating the Perfect Beverages

Key Takeaways:

  • Beverage formulation is a science-based process that relies on food science and nutrition for success.
  • Different types of beverages require different formulation approaches, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, CBD-infused drinks, and functional beverages.
  • Concept and recipe development, production, and packaging and labeling are steps in the formulation process.
  • Bulk ingredients may be found through online and local suppliers and specialty stores.
  • There are beverage manufacturing and formulation professionals who can help with the process.

Creating the perfect beverage isn’t just about concocting a delicious recipe. It’s also about understanding the science and practice behind beverage formulation. The perfect drink results from careful planning and execution, considering the perfect ingredients, desired flavor, mouthfeel, and nutrition profile.

Several steps go into formulating the perfect beverage, whether it’s a non-alcoholic or functional beverage, a CBD-infused drink, or an alcoholic beverage. Getting the formulation right is essential to crafting a delicious, nutritious, and safe beverage. This guide walks you through the steps of formulating a great new drink. Read on to learn more about the science and practice of beverage formulation.

What Is Beverage Formulation and the Science Behind It?

Beverage formulation is the process of creating a recipe for a beverage. This involves choosing the right ingredients, proportions, and processes to create a drink that meets the desired specifications.

Beverage formulation is a science-based process. It requires knowledge of the interaction between ingredients and understanding how those interactions will affect the final product. This scientific knowledge is combined with creativity and experience to formulate recipes for new and innovative beverages. The creative aspect comes into play when developing new flavor profiles and mouthfeels.

During beverage formulation, a beverage manufacturer will:

  • Develop a product specification sheet
  • Source ingredients and prepare nutrition facts
  • Submit all paperwork required by the FDA and other regulatory bodies
  • Conduct stability testing
  • Scale up the recipe from grams to pounds and gallons
  • Optimize the production processes and prepare batching instructions
  • Create a packaging design and labeling

Beverage manufacturers may work with food scientists, chemists, nutritionists, and other experts to develop unique recipes and products. Engineers and production staff also help ensure that the products can be produced at scale and meet all safety and quality standards.

What Are the Different Types of Beverages?

Many entrepreneurs are looking to get their piece of this $1.5 trillion industry, which is projected to hit $1.8 trillion by 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 3.1%. The best way to achieve this, of course, is by formulating new and innovative beverages. Understanding the different types of drinks and their respective formulations is a critical first step in this process.

The following is a list and description of the most common beverage types.

These drinks contain ethanol, which is produced by fermentation. Alcoholic beverages include beer, wine, and spirits. Each type of alcoholic beverage has its own set of regulations that must be followed during formulation.

These types of beverages, as the name suggests, do not contain ethanol and can be either carbonated or non-carbonated. Non-alcoholic beverages include water, juices, teas, and sports drinks.

Unlike other drinks, functional beverages contain ingredients that provide a health or wellness benefit beyond nutritional value. They contain vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, herbs, and other active ingredients. Functional beverages include energy drinks, sports and performance drinks, and enhanced waters.

  • CBD-Infused Beverages 

This is a relatively new functional drink category containing cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis that has been shown to have various health and wellness benefits. CBD-infused beverages are becoming increasingly popular as more people learn about the potential benefits of CBD, including pain relief, anxiety reduction, and improved sleep.

Each type of beverage follows a specific set of formulation guidelines to ensure safety and quality. Functional beverages, for example, must meet FDA guidelines for food labeling and nutrition facts. CBD-infused beverages are subject to state and federal regulations regarding cannabis-derived products, while alcoholic drinks must follow alcohol regulations set by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

Beverage Formulation Steps

The process of beverage formulation is complex in that it involves many different steps. The specific tasks involved in any given formulation will depend on the type of beverage being created, but there are some common steps that all formulations follow.

  • Concept Development

Developing new and innovative beverage concepts is critical for any manufacturer looking to stay ahead of the competition. This step involves identifying trends, understanding consumer needs, and consulting with experts to develop products that meet those needs. A product specification sheet is also created during this step, which outlines the desired flavor, color, texture, ingredients, and other properties of the finished product. 

  • Recipe Development

The recipe development stage transforms the beverage concept into a workable recipe. This process involves sourcing ingredients, laboratory testing, reformulations, and prototype development, and once a prototype is created, it undergoes sensory testing to assess flavor, color, and other properties.

  • Production

After the recipe is finalized and approved, it is sent to production, where it is manufactured on a large scale. This step involves ensuring that the product can be produced consistently and meets all quality and safety standards.

  • Packaging and Labeling 

The final step in the formulation process is packaging and labeling. It involves selecting the appropriate packaging for the product and designing labels that meet all regulatory requirements. After the product is packaged and labeled, it is ready for distribution and sale.

These steps aren’t all-inclusive, and the course each of them takes may vary from product to product, but they are essential in the beverage manufacturing and formulation process.

What to Do After Beverage Formulation

It’s crucial to keep track of any changes made to the recipe or production process after the formulation process is complete. This includes minor changes such as ingredient substitutions as well as more significant changes like process modifications. Keeping track of these changes is critical for quality control and helps ensure that the product meets all safety and quality standards.

It’s also important to monitor consumer feedback and sales data. You can use this information to assess whether the product meets consumer needs and make necessary adjustments to the recipe or production process. With the beverage industry’s dynamic and highly competitive nature, continual innovation is essential for any manufacturer looking to stay ahead of the competition.

Where to Buy Bulk Ingredients for Beverage Formulation

Ingredients are the core of any beverage formulation. Creating a delicious, tasty, signature beverage is impossible without regular access to lots of high-quality ingredients. Where do you buy these ingredients in bulk, though?

  • Online Suppliers 

The advancement of technology and proliferation of eCommerce has made it easier than ever to buy ingredients online. Many reputable suppliers sell ingredients in bulk at competitive prices, making it easy to find everything you need for your formulation. Do your due diligence when choosing a supplier to ensure you get high-quality ingredients, and be sure to compare prices to get the best deal.

  • Local Suppliers

You can also buy ingredients from local suppliers if you want a personal touch. This is an excellent option if you want to build relationships with suppliers and get to know the people behind the ingredients. Ask for recommendations from other beverage manufacturers or food scientists to find the best local suppliers.

  • Specialty Stores 

For hard-to-find ingredients, you may need to visit a specialty store. This is typically more expensive than buying ingredients in bulk, but it may be the only option for certain rare or exotic ingredients.

The best way to find the right ingredients for your formulation is to consult experts in the field. They can help you source ingredients, assess quality, and find the best deals.

Let MetaBrand Help You with Your Beverage Formulation and Manufacturing.

Getting your beverage formulation science right is critical to the success of your product. The process can be daunting, though, especially when you don’t have the right team.

MetaBrand is a full-service independent beverage formulation and manufacturing company that can help you with every step of the beverage formulation process. We have a decade of experience and loads of expertise tucked under our belt and a history of creating award-winning products for our clients. 

The pros at MetaBrand do everything in-house to ensure the industry’s highest quality products and quickest turnaround times. Connect with MetaBrand today to get started on your beverage formulation and manufacturing journey.

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