Energy drinks jump on ‘health bandwagon’

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

The energy drinks market is embracing natural ingredients and “sustainable, longer lasting energy” according to a new international report from Business Insights.

While Red Bull remains the clear sector leader, the market is maturing beyond the slimline, carbonated can to juice products, functional waters with natural ingredients such as oats, ginseng, acai and goji berries proving popular.

Jessica Sadler, Business Insights head of publishing, consumer goods, told NutraIngredients.com there was a “huge shift occurring among mainstream soft drink manufacturers”​ toward energy products.

“They are adding energy ingredients – more natural ingredients like herbals and fruit to reposition them as being about vitality, being natural and offering longer-lasting boosts to energy levels,”​ she said.

A product like Danone Waters’ Volvic Revive Energy Drink in the UK was a prime example of a functional water that targeted energy-starved consumers via the addition of herbal stimulants such as guarana and ginseng.

European breakdown

The report predicted five per cent growth in the sports and energy drink sector through 2011.

In energy drinks alone, Spain was highlighted as the fastest growing European market with 13.1 per cent growth between 2001 and 2006 and expected to notch double digit growth until 2011. It had sales of $76m (€53.43m) in 2006, expected to grow to $101m (€71m) by 2011.

The UK is by far the biggest European market as it had been an early adopter of Red Bull and had subsequently seen energy drinks reach the mainstream including supermarkets and garage forecourts. Sales would jump from $2.19bn (€1.54m) in 2006 to $2.7bn (€1.89bn) in 2011.

The next biggest market – Germany – will see a leveling in demand and grow at only 2.4 per cent from $342m (€240m) in 2006 to $386m (€270.1m) in 2011.

The fastest growing market is Italy, which will grow by 10.1 per cent from $154m (€108m) in 2006 to $249m (€174m) in 2011.

France is the smallest market largely due to the fact Red Bull has had limited distribution due one of its principle ingredients, taurine, being banned by French authorities. The market there is worth only $29m (€20.3m) in 2006.

The overall European market was expected to grow from $3.77bn (€2.64bn) in 2006 to $4.69bn (€3.29bn) in 2011.

Beyond beverages

Business Insight’s report also noted the spread of energy products outside of the beverage category.

“Categories with products that have a high energy value such as confectionery, bakery and dairy will be able to reposition their products as a means of providing energy and therefore continue to grow despite the concerns around obesity,”​ Business Insights said.

It added: “The usage of everyday natural ingredients that are associated with providing slow releasing energy, such as oats and bananas, means that manufacturers that had never positioned or claimed that their products could be used for energy needs, are able to do this relatively easily. Indeed, more mass manufacturers are now participating and launching products into the sports and energy category.”

Fellow researcher Mintel drew a similar conclusion in a recent article.

"Energy bars are familiar to many Americans but other energised foods, such as candy, chips, milk and cereal, are definitely not. We expect the concept of 'energy' – both physical and mental – to greatly influence food product development,"​ said Krista Faron, senior new product analyst at Mintel.

It noted the sector had experienced 400 per cent growth since 2003.

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