The company, which has marketed dextrose energy tablets in Germany since 1927, is hoping to tap the rising consumption of energy drinks with a line of new products under its Dextro brand.
Last year it launched an energy bar under the brand for the German retail market and has followed it up with a new energy drink, Dextro Energy, available since February in a 250ml TetraPak, according to the report.
The drink will go head-to-head with market leader Red Bull when the new range is introduced to eight European markets.
While the Dextro brand is well-known in Germany, the pure dextrose market is very limited, with sales of €44 million, according to Nielsen retail data. The energy market is growing fast on the other hand, and although slower than previous years, energy drinks still saw a 6.5 per cent sales increase in 2003 to 311 million litres, translating into a market value of €2340 million, according to drinks consultancy Zenith International.
Unilever will however have a battle to gain the lead on Red Bull, keeping a strong hold on its two thirds of overall volume across West Europe. The brand is present in 13 West European countries and holds the lead in 12 of these.
But Unilever may gain attention with a different formula from the usual Red Bull me-toos, based on caffeine and taurine ingredients.