Drink to Your Health: Local ‘Functional’ Beverages

The trend of supposedly health-boosting drinks has examples springing up here in Minnesota
Wâhiwater
Wâhiwater

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In the past few years, health-boosting beverages have stepped into the lemon and limelight. People are seeking more benefits in the drinks they consume, and they want to feel good about what they put in their bodies. After all, you are what you eat—or in this case, what you drink.

Many of these beverages are called “functional” drinks, meaning they contain specific ingredients to provide some sort of health benefit. They can be non-alcoholic or alcoholic and cover all of the bases: dairy, sports drinks, energy drinks, plant milks, enhanced waters, and other categories. They include such additives as amino acids, fibers, probiotics, raw fruits, minerals, or vitamins to boost health and wellness.

According to market research firm Research and Markets, the global functional beverages market was valued at over $110,000 million in 2020. With that number estimated to reach $200,000 million by 2030, expect to see more green juices and various antioxidant-packed beverages on shelves in the next few years. As people become increasingly intentional with what they consume, many local businesses are capitalizing on this trend. Here are three companies with Minnesota ties that are making functional the new normal:

3leche Fermentation Lab

3leche is a fermentation company headquartered in the Food Building in Minneapolis, home to several food and beverage companies experimenting with new products. Restaurateur and whiskey maker Kieran Folliard works in the building, as well as Red Table Meat Co. and Alemar Cheese. Tres Leches, as it is also called, was opened in late 2021 by Marco Zappia, Dustin Nguyen, and Adam Witherspoon, all known for their bartending and cocktail expertise at the Colita restaurant. In a place where drinks and science come together, the 3leche crew prides itself on creativity, innovation, and invention. This flair is evident in the product line of fermented botanical beverages. One beverage is is a kombucha-like fermented beverage made with lychee and cacao, called Ispahan. The health-boosting properties include probiotics and antioxidants, to name a few. Perhaps less glamorous, but just as integral to the fermentation process, Zappia identifies yeast, bacteria, and fungi as key components to the health-boosting properties of the drinks.

Zappia explains the draw of the company’s products: “Do I feel good after drinking or eating this? Awesome. Does this replace modern medicine? No.” Zappia encourages people to explore and have fun with all the flavors.

Panache

St. Paul-based Panache creates juices and ciders that are unprocessed. The science behind Panache’s shelf-stable beverages dates back more than 3,000 years, long before the concept of refrigeration. According to Panache CEO and co-founder Ameeta Jaiswal-Dale, Panache’s juices are made using Ayurvedic recipes inspired by South Asian philosophies found in yoga. Jaiswal-Dale says the brand’s use of botanicals and berries are fundamental to creating these drinks that aim to promote a “brain-to-gut equilibrium.” The company uses Minnesota-grown apples, and products range from one titled Bold North, with antioxidants and berries, to one called Piquant Zest, with melatonin. In the next year, Jaiswal-Dale reports the female-founded, female-led company has plans to open a cidery in Minnesota, where it will continue to concentrate on quality products and a positive customer experience.

Wâhiwater

Wâhiwater uses natural minerals and plant extracts to create plant-powered water beverages. The business aims to bridge the gap between conventional water beverages and functional beverages by combining plant-based nutrition with the easy drinkability of water. The brand boasts a product line that features both flat and carbonated options, a wide array of flavors, and different supposed functionalities. From anti-inflammation to collagen production, digestion support to exercise recovery, Wâhiwater seems to have a beverage for every function. With all of these health-boosting claims, it is no surprise that Minnesota Vikings legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss is an investor and backer of the company.

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Frank Lien is an editorial intern who attends Concordia University in St. Paul and is set to graduate in May 2023. He is pursuing a major in communication studies and a minor in marketing. He enjoys reading, watching sports, and listening to old radio shows.