The global non-alcoholic beverage market was recently valued at $967.3 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.8% over the next eight years. Segments of this market include carbonated soft drinks, fruit beverages, functional beverages, sports drinks, and bottled water. Increasing awareness of obesity and overall health concerns are expected to trigger growth in the functional beverage and bottled water segments while limiting demand for carbonated soft drinks. Likewise, the global coffee market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.5% over the same period. Coffee is the highest consumed beverage in developed countries and is segmented based on many factors, including source type (Arabica, Robusta, and Liberica), flavored and non-flavored, product types such as whole-bean, powdered, instant, and others, and caffeinated and non-caffeinated. Both fruit beverages and carbonated soft drinks are sugar (or for some carbonated drinks – artificial sweetener) based and encompass a wide variety of flavors and consumer choices. Much attention has been paid to the detection of the quality and safety of liquid foods because of their various raw materials. This is especially true for fruit beverages and coffee. Certain types of liquid foods are very perishable.
Along with processing techniques like drying, heating, cooling, freezing, and pasteurizing, there is also a need for rapid and cost-effective methods to analyze and classify quality, especially when considering a large amount of variability of liquid foods in the market. Moreover, consumer awareness of quality assurance amongst brands is a significant factor in consumers’ decisions to purchase non-alcoholic beverages. The implications of poor product quality spreading in today’s social media environment, as well as the financial consequences of a product recall, can be devastating to a company’s bottom line. Traditional methods for analyzing liquid foods include HPLC, GC, wet chemistry methods, and sensory analysis. These methods are time-consuming and expensive, especially when applied in an online setting. Developing rapid, non-invasive, cost-effective, and environmentally sound methods for quality testing has become a priority for non-alcoholic beverage manufacturers. One such method with potential for both laboratory and industrial testing of non-alcoholic beverage products is NIR spectroscopy.
Process Analytical Technology (PAT) & Online Measurements
Process Analytical Technology is a framework for innovative process manufacturing and quality assurance. Critical points and parameters during manufacturing of a product are defined, and the process is designed in a way that such points and parameters can be measured using analytical tools and instruments for real-time process feedback and control. Such instruments must be able to measure online and in a non-invasive manner. Many vendors have developed instruments that can measure multiple points in a process with a single instrument, usually using optical fibers and probes. PAT has become an important part of pharmaceutical manufacturing and is beginning to acquire a hold in the food & beverage industry. One such analytical tool with great potential for use in PAT is NIR Spectroscopy.
There are significant challenges to implementing PAT in a beverage manufacturing environment. NIR spectroscopy has been proven as a useful tool for measuring parameters of interest in edible oils measurement. Vendors are coming up with new and innovative ways to make online measurements a feasible solution for companies. Advances such as improved fiber-optics, in-situ sampling, a transition to integrated automation, improved data management systems, and communication systems in the Internet and Cloud age have all contributed to implementing PAT.
The beverage and food industries also present particular challenges due to natural product variability. In the case of pharmaceuticals and chemicals, the manufacturing process is usually conducted in a controlled environment with constituents that rarely show variability in spectral data over time. For foods and particularly agricultural products, there can be marked differences in products due to many factors, such as temperature variability, seasonal variation, differences in soil and nutrients, and different breeds of the same product. Such variability is especially significant to account for when performing coffee analysis. Such differences can create variability in spectral data that must be incorporated into calibration models for when calibrating NIR spectrometers and other analytical PAT tools. This is known as making models “robust” and often requires a larger and more incorporative sample set to achieve the desired results.
Calibration studies have been conducted for measuring parameters in non-alcoholic beverages on-line as well as in the laboratory. Results have been good and show that on-line measurements are a feasible tool for edible oils analysis using PAT. Full adoption of PAT in the non-alcoholic beverage industry will require a collaborative effort from process engineers, food scientists, and other contributors to provide the industry with a manufacturing framework for the 21th century.
Nonalcoholic Beverage Market Analysis By Product (CSD, Fruit Beverages, Bottled Water, Functional Beverages, Sports Drinks), By Distribution Channel, And Segment Forecasts, 2018-2025
Encyclopedia of Occupational Health and Safety, Fourth Edition, Chapter 65 – Beverage Industry
How Products Are Made, Volume 2 – Soft Drink
Quality Analysis, Classification, and Authentication of Liquid Foods by Near-Infrared Spectroscopy: A Review of Recent Research Developments – Wang, Sun, Pu, and Cheng, Critical Reviews in Science and Nutrition, 2017, Vol. 57, No. 7, 1524-1538
Process Analytical Technology for the Food Industry -O’Donnell, Fagan, Cullen, et al., Springer, Food Engineering Series (2014)