Japan's growing taste for amino acid sports drinks

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sports drinks, Amino acid, Acid, Japan

Sports drinks containing amino acids as their main ingredient are
becoming popular in Japan, drawing people concerned with relieving
fatigue and maintaining health and beauty, industry officials have
said.

Sports drinks containing amino acids as their main ingredient are becoming popular in Japan, drawing people concerned with relieving fatigue and maintaining health and beauty, industry officials told the Kyodo News Service​.

Amino acids used to be consumed by athletes to grow and strengthen their muscles, but now they are used for various purposes. Also popular are sports drinks that contain calcium and vegetable fibre.

An official at a major beverage firm said the drinks "have become indispensable for modern people under a lot of stress"​.So-called functional sports drinks are supposed to fulfil some function, such as relieving fatigue, replenishing minerals or rehydrating the body. Their popularity is spreading across consumer gender and age lines.

Of about 20 kinds of amino acids, nine of them must be ingested because the body cannot produce them. They are necessary for health.

Sports drinks took up a 9.5 per cent share of Japan's non-alcoholic beverage market last year, up 0.6 per centage point from 2000, according to the Japan Soft Drinks Association. Coffee had a 16.9 per cent share, while oolong tea and mineral water had 8.8 per cent and 6.4 per cent respectively.

Pocari Sweat, launched by Otsuka Pharmaceutical in 1980, and Aquarius, launched three years later by Coca-Cola (Japan), have dominated the market for a long time.

Later, Ajinomoto and Meiji Dairies launched sports drinks called Amino Vital and Vaam respectively. Meiji Dairies advertised Vaam with Olympic gold medalist marathon runner Naoko Takahashi.

In March 2000, Suntory introduced a sports drink called DAKARA, which contains calcium and magnesium instead of amino acids and turned out to be a big hit.

The amino acids market, including sports drinks and products in the form of jellies and powders, was about 30 billion yen last year, Ajinomoto officials said.

Reflecting Japan's health and dieting boom, the combined sales of such products are expected to exceed 70 billion yen this year, up more than twofold from 2001, they added.

"I think there will be soft drinks with various ingredients, not only amino acids, in the future,"​ said Masaru Otani, professor at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Related topics: Markets and Trends

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