The market research firm estimated that in 2010 the value of the sector stood at $36bn, having grown 32 per cent since 2006.
Growth in the energy drinks market has been particularly impressive. Leatherhead said global energy drink sales have increased 83 per cent between 2006 and 2010, taking the value of the market to $11.5bn.
A wave of new products that promise to be healthier or more natural has helped increase sales of both sports and energy drinks.
Leatherhead said: “The market has benefited from the worldwide health and wellness trend, whilst news drinks featuring lower sugar levels and more natural ingredients have also assisted in attracting new consumers to the category.”
Most popular claims
Quoting data from Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD), Leatherhead said the most popular health claim for new sports and energy drinks is fortification with vitamins and minerals.
According to the GNPD, 72 energy drinks and 30 sports drinks that launched last year made a vitamin/mineral claim. The fortification trend was particular prevalent in European and Asia-Pacific regions while additive-free and kosher claims were more significant in North America.
Other popular claims on new products related to sugar levels or the calorie count.
Leatherhead concluded that the desire for healthier drinks with a more natural profile leaves manufacturers with a formulation challenge going forward.
“Of key importance to the sports and energy drinks category is the ability of the product to retain its functionality, whilst also being able to live up to additional claims such as being natural or healthier.”