Similar to how Popeye the Sailor Man consumed spinach to fuel his strength to save the day, many athletes turn to performance beverages to fuel their performance and help put them on the path to victory. According to Chicago-based market research firm Mintel, performance food and drink sales have been on the rise in recent years with sports drinks leading the pack at $6.3 billion in estimated 2012 sales. This represents a 10.1 percent increase compared with 2010 sales, according to the company’s January 2013 report “Performance Food and Drink – US.”
Consumers turn to performance drinks to boost their athletic performance, improve endurance or facilitate recovery after a game or workout, explains Tom VonderBrink, president of Bioenergy Life Science Inc., Ham Lake, Minn. However, performance needs vary based on lifestyles and the type of athlete, he says. “We deal with a number of world-class and Olympic-class athletes,” he says of his company’s main consumer group. “In this group, they are looking for tenths of a second — minute changes — in improving their performance. They’re at the top echelon of how well they perform, and very often the difference between winning and not winning … is a very, very small difference in how well you perform. So, they’re looking at just about any type of edge they can get both during the actual competition and also during the training or the preparation for that.