In bottles, shots or mixes, performance beverage sales are growing almost as fast as the number of enhancements they provide. In 2007, global functional drinks reached approximately 13.5 billion liters, with 10.3 billion liters attributed to sports drinks and 2.9 billion to energy drinks, reports Euromonitor International, Chicago. By 2012, Euromonitor forecasts that global functional drink volume will reach 15.9 billion liters.
Sales for the two performance giants posted similar results. The global market for sports nutrition, which includes energy drinks and sports drinks, food and supplements, reached $27.2 billion in 2007, according to “Sports Nutrition and High Energy Supplement: The Global Market,” a market research report from BCC Research, Wellesley, Mass. The sports nutrition category is expected to grow to $31.2 billion this year and to $91.8 billion by 2013.
The largest and fastest-growing segment of the sports and energy nutrition market is beverages. Sports drinks and energy drinks generated profits of $24.9 billion in 2007, and are expected to hit $27.8 billion this year, BCC Research says. By 2013, sports drinks and energy drinks are anticipated to achieve $87 billion, for a compound annual growth rate of 25.6 percent. Between sports drinks and energy drinks, the energy drink market is driving growth, while sports drinks are at a mature stage, the research report says.
The United States ranked as the largest consumer of sports and energy nutrition products, followed by Western Europe and Japan, BCC Research adds. Asia and Latin America are developing markets for the segment. The key market drivers for the category are taste, price, variety and brand trust, the research says. Now that the demand for sports and energy nutrition products is coming from mainstream consumers, convenience and taste are being looked at as the biggest growth performers.
“As consumers continue to become aware of the many health conditions that they may be facing as they go through the various states of their lives, they will continue to educate themselves on how they can take responsibility for their own health status through nutrition and seek out products that address those needs,” says Rich Schleif, director of marketing at Fortitech Inc., Schenectady, N.Y. “Beverage manufacturers will need to embrace new, targeted formulations.”
With energy drinks and sports drinks appealing to mainstream consumers, it’s not surprising that “beneficial” fortifications and lower-calorie options are driving formulation trends.
Vitamin and mineral fortification tops energy drink and sports drink performance-enhancing attributes. Of the 227 energy drinks that launched from the beginning of the year through Aug. 31, 69 claimed to be fortified with vitamins and minerals, reports Mintel International’s Global New Products Database (GNPD). The sports drink category launched 47 new products through the same period, and nine of those made vitamin and mineral fortification claims, GNPD reports. Low-, no- and reduced-sugar claims appeared on 52 new energy drinks so far this year and six sports drinks.
Sports and energy beverages are optimum vehicles for delivering ingredients that address a multitude of health needs, Schleif says. “Based on what Fortitech is seeing in the marketplace, consumers are looking for energy and sports drinks that address the traditional needs of these types of beverages as well as weight management, cardiovascular health, joint health, immunity and diabetic management,” he says.
As the energy drink category grows, it is also evolving and maturing. Consumers have come to expect more than “just” energy in their energy drinks.
“Consumers are looking for value-added ingredients that provide nutritive value as well as enhanced performance,” says Holly Petty, senior product innovation scientist at Seltzer Nutritional Technologies, Carlsbad, Calif. “Additionally, consumers are not only seeking an energy boost from energy beverages, but they seek a product which provides a sustained sense of energy and alertness, ideally void of side effects often associated with stimulatory nutritional ingredients. Indeed these functional benefits are becoming mainstream.”
In regard to fortification trends for energy drinks, Petty says that “continuing trends will be that of balanced nutrition, providing for physical and mental well-being via nutritional ingredients, customary and ‘natural’ in nature.”
Several new areas of functionality that Fortitech is seeing include the beauty-from-within/cosmeceutical category, stress/mood enhancement and cognitive function or mental focus, Schleif says. In addition to these functional benefits, Fortitech’s customers also have shown interest in osteoporosis, ocular health and hypertension.
Areas of focus at GTC Nutrition, Golden, Colo., include bone health and immunity health. “In addition to energy, consumers across multiple life stages are using beverages as a means of supplementation for improved health and wellness,” says Trina O’Brien, marketing and public relations manager at GTC Nutrition.
Joint and heart health are two areas in which Cargill Health and Nutrition, Wayzata, Minn., has developed new ingredients to deliver additional benefits to functional beverages. Cargill’s Regenasure glucosamine helps promote healthy joints, and it is vegetarian and non-shellfish derived, the company says. An additional ingredient for bone health is Oliggo-Fiber inulin, a natural, soluble fiber that may help boost calcium absorption. For heart health, CoroWise Naturally Sourced Cholesterol Reducer brand of plant sterols aims to reduce bad cholesterol, and Barliv betafiber, a natural fiber, also has been shown to reduce cholesterol, the company says.
Energizing the core
The “energy” at the center of energy drink formulas is also a key functional area of development. The usual sources for energy are caffeine, often derived from coffee, teas (green tea and yerba maté), guarana, cocoa and chocolate bases. Taurine, B vitamins and L-carnitine are also ingredients included in energy drinks to enrich energy levels.
“Innovative energy-enhancing sources include polydextrose, providing a source of fiber and controlled sugar levels,” Petty says. “Others might include: ginseng, L-tyrosine and cayenne.”
Sustained energy is another promise that many energy drinks and energy shots now are making to differentiate themselves in the energy drink category.
“Due to differences in structure and presence of other phytochemicals, such as saponins in guarana, and EGCG in green tea, there are indeed other mechanisms in addition to caffeine that elicit ergogenic affects and affect absorption rate of caffeine,” Petty says. “Other components, structure and concentration of caffeine, make green tea and guarana ideal stimulants.”
Natural sources of caffeine could possibly have greater long-term positive affects, both cognitively and physically, Petty adds.
“To obtain a sustained sense of energy induced by caffeine without the excitatory and abdominal side affects, the caffeine must be obtained above a certain level within the blood and a peak absorption level should be controlled through a slow release of caffeine,” she explains. “Natural sources of caffeine may indeed prove physiologically effective in this regard, due to the presence of other compounds that could better control and/or delay the release of caffeine within the body.”
Additionally, fibers or other carbohydrates also can slow the absorption rate of caffeine, and provide for sustained energy, Petty adds.
Sustained levels of energy also can be delivered by using microencapsulated caffeine and other ingredients, says Sam Wright IV, chief executive officer of The Wright Group, Crowley, La. “It is possible to have a product formulated with very fine dispersible beadlets, which release over time from four to eight hours, similar to the way that cold medications are designed,” he says.
For beverage-formulators seeking to enhance their energy drinks’ results, antioxidants, including soy protein, soy isoflavonoides, fruit and vegetable extracts, phosphatidylserine, mushroom extract, St. John’s Wort, ginger and vitamins C and E, offer a solution. Antioxidants can improve exercise and daily performance and provide both physical and mental improvements, Petty says.
Another area that beverage-makers are addressing is the adverse reaction caffeine has on some consumers. Side effects of caffeine might be eased by adding the green tea-derived amino acid theanine, Petty adds.
Several ingredient suppliers are offering energy in combination with other fortifications to increase beverages’ functions. For example, Cargill offers BT-100, a proprietary spray-dried combination of trehalose and whey protein isolate designed to improve the functional performance of whey protein in beverage products.
“It is a multi-functional carbohydrate that provides energy with all the functional benefits of sucrose and about half its sweetness,” says Pam Stauffer, global marketing and communications manager at Cargill Health and Nutrition.
Aiming to provide long-lasting, continuous energy, NutraGenesis LLC, Brattleboro, Vt., developed Essentra, an extract of ashwagandha, a plant grown in India. Essentra’s energizing characteristics result from bioactive compounds that are extracted from specially grown ashwagandha roots and leaves in a patented, water-based process. The bioactives give Essentra the properties to increase the body’s ability to resist and recover from fatigue and stress while stimulating an overall feeling of balance and normalization, NutraGenesis says. Because Essentra acts as a metabolic regulator that increases the body’s ability to adjust to environmental stressors, the ingredient is suited for inclusion in energy beverages. Essentra can be used as a stand-alone energy enhancer or together with a stimulant because it provides long-lasting, sustained energy that complements a stimulant’s short-term energy boost and evens out the highs and lows normally experienced by stimulant users, the company says.
D-ribose, a naturally occurring monosaccharide the body uses to stimulate the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an essential energy compound, is also finding its way into beverages as an energy ingredient. Bioenergy Life Science Inc., Ham Lake, Minn., offers Bioenergy D-ribose, which can be used in energy drinks and sports drinks. Although ribose is made naturally by the body, its production is limited by several enzymes that are in short supply in heart and muscles cells. Normally, this is not a problem except when the heart muscles are challenged by the stress of exercise or lack of oxygen. Supplementing the stressed cells with D-ribose restores cellular energy and alleviates soreness, stiffness and the overall feeling of fatigue, Bioenergy Life Science says.
Sports drinks for today’s active consumers aim to provide Olympic performance in a field of enhanced beverages.
“Sports beverage applications are increasingly incorporating value-added, functional ingredients into their formulations to provide benefits beyond extended energy,” GTC Nutrition’s O’Brien says.
The sports drink category has become a fusion of electrolytes and stimulatory ingredients, Perry says. “Functional ingredients are also being implemented to aid in sports performance readiness and recovery,” she says.
Electrolytes â€” including calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium â€” are important before, during and after exercise, Perry explains. “Proper oxygenation of muscles can greatly improve performance and reduce free radical damage,” she says.
Several ingredients are making their way into sports drinks for the athletic benefits they hope to provide. For example, L-carnitine-L-tartrate is thought to improve the level of oxygen in the blood stream, Petty says. Along with electrolytes, betaine may aid in hydration, during and after exercise. For endurance and performance, taurine purportedly is beneficial particularly in combination with caffeine, glucuronolactone and creatine. For enhanced muscle recovery, branched chain amino acids and creatine may prove beneficial.
Targeting performance beverages, DSM Nutritional Products, Parsippany, N.J., developed PeptoPro, a peptide based on natural milk protein. Due to its composition of small chains of di-peptides and tri-peptides, PeptoPro can be rapidly absorbed by the body without adversely affecting the digestive system, which is ideal for sports drinks, the company says. Its amino acids are therefore made available to the muscles faster than conventional sources of protein. Recently, VPX, Davie, Fla., selected PeptoPro to be used in two muscle-building supplements No-Shotgun v.3 and No-SyntheSize v.3.
Bodybuilders also have long used another dairy-derived ingredient, whey protein, for muscle strengthening and recovery. Dairy Management Inc., Rosemont, Ill., found new research that shows that many athletes can benefit from the dairy-based ingredient. Just 10 grams of whey protein added to an isotonic drink following resistance exercise can stimulate lean muscle growth and muscle recovery, according to a research team from McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario. In a study using eight resistance-trained athletes, the Exercise Metabolism Research Group with the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University found that participants who ingested a carbohydrate drink containing 10 grams of whey protein with 21 grams of fructose following resistance exercise saw a rise in muscle protein synthesis.
In addition to muscle building, sports drink consumers are interested in other health benefits such as fiber. GTC Nutrition created prebiotic fibers such as NutraFlora short-chain fructooligosaccharides for improved calcium absorption and immune and digestive health. The company also provides Aquamin calcified mineral source for bone and joint health, and beta-glucans such as OatVantage oat bran concentrate for satiety and heart health. GTC Nutrition also introduced BioAgave active agave fiber, a plant-derived source of inulin that provides nutrition-based digestive health solutions.