When observing the actions of children, it might not be uncommon for adults to remark, “I wish I had that much energy.” Athletes also can be inspiring figures in relation to knowing how to maintain higher energy levels. In the beverage market, sports and energy drink brand owners commonly have turned to these athletes as brand ambassadors for their products.

According to Chicago-based Euromonitor International, the sales of sports and energy drinks are expected to grow by about 15 percent in off-trade value terms between 2013 and 2018, which would turn out to be slightly below the 19 percent the category achieved from 2008 to 2013. Although the market research firm cautioned that health and safety concerns might have an impact on sales, there also was a possibility that the impact was because of increased competition from other beverage categories. Still, it is expected to reach a total of $17.9 billion by 2018, Euromonitor says.

Influencing innovation

The energy drink market is no stranger to new product development. For example, Kyowa Hakko USA Inc., New York, announced earlier this year that Phoenix-based G3 Labs Inc.’s MinoTor ready-to-drink (RTD) sports supplement will contain its Sustamine L-Alanyl-L-Glutamine ingredient, which contains a blend of vitamins and other amino acids. MinoTor is a non-carbonated, premium sports drink designed for active consumers, the company says. Sustamine is a dipeptide of glutamine that infuses MinoTOR with several substantial benefits such as enhanced recovery, immune system support, and increased metabolic rate, Kyowa Hakko USA says. In addition, research suggests that Sustamine is absorbed 240 percent more than standard L-glutamine, it adds. MinoTor is free of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives and contains 50 calories in each serving.

Kyowa Hakko USA Inc. also is the North America sales office for Kyowa Hakko Bio Co. LTD., which announced recently that it has received a patent for the combination of amino acids L-citrulline and L-arginine. L-arginine is an amino acid that is found to be essential in the production of nitric oxide in the body, which can help regulate and improve blood circulation, according to company. L-citrulline is a precursor to L-arginine. The company also reported that it measured nitric oxide blood levels in subjects at 40- and 60-minute time intervals and determined that the combination of the two amino acids improved blood levels at both time points more effectively than using a single amino acid.

Minneapolis-based Taiyo International also is assisting beverage-makers in meeting their energy needs. The company produces three energy ingredients based on green tea: matcha powder, Sunphenon and Suntheanine. Matcha powder is manufactured from Japanese green tea leaves that slowly are ground in a stone mill. The slow speed is important to help avoid friction, which can add heat that could deteriorate the color and flavor of the leaves, the company says. Matcha leaves contain polyphenols, vitamins, minerals, fibers, chlorophyll and L-theanine that increase the health benefits of drinking the tea or adding the powder to other beverages, the company says.

Sunphenon is obtained from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis tea plant in Japan, according to the company. The leaf provides polyphenols that can impart healthy antioxidants and anti-microbial, deodorant and thermogenic properties, the company says. Sunphenon has been approved by the Japanese Foundation for Health and Nutrition as a food for specified health use, according to the company.

Suntheanine is produced using a fermentation process designed to mimic the natural process and results in a 100 percent pure L-isomer-theanine, according to the company. The fermentation process uses enzymes that employ amino acids ethylamine and L-glutamine to produce an isomerically pure L-theanine, the company explains. Research shows that Suntheanine might play a role in improving the quality of sleep, diminishing normal symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, improving learning performance, heightening mental acuity, promoting concentration, reducing negative side effects of caffeine, and supporting the human immune system, the company says.

Blue California, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., also manufacturers ingredients that support the energy and healthy beverage market. Its L-Tea Active ingredient is a natural source of L-theanine that is 98 percent pure, the company says. This ingredient has been shown in studies to help reduce stress and anxiety, induce relaxation without causing drowsiness, improve focus and mental clarity, and increase concentration, according to the company. The product also is water soluble and adds no taste, color or odor to beverages while also meeting the standards for kosher and halal requirements. The company also produces a ginseng extract that is free of all pesticides and solvents. In addition, its VitaPanax extract meets Japanese quality standards for consumers.

To support the energy needs of beverage-makers, AIDP Inc., City of Industry, Calif., offers numerous ingredients. Its LongJax product, which comes from the botanical eurycoma longifolia jack (ELJ), can be administered in beverage formulations to support energy propositions. The ELJ powder has been associated in Southeast Asia with healing properties and the ability to improve male health, the company says. ELJ normally is used in Southeast Asia in beverages and other foods, it adds. AIDP uses a solvent-free hot-water process that mimics traditional brewing methods to produce a final product that is very clean, the company says.

To help accelerate energy recovery, reduce muscle stiffness and provide greater endurance, Bioenergy Life Science Inc., Ham Lake, Minn., offers Bioenergy Ribose. Although the product is a five-carbon monosaccharide, it does not raise blood sugar, making it a good carbohydrate to use in food and beverage formulations, the company says. It also is highly soluble in hot or cold solutions and tastes slightly sweet, it adds.

Beverage-makers also are turning to different fruits to source ingredients that can provide a natural energy proposition. TH Herbals U.S. Inc., Austin, Texas, mixes a gac fruit from Southeast Asia with vegan proteins and antioxidant-rich juices that provide essential amino acids in its Total Happiness Natural drinks, the company says.

Market presence

Miami Lakes, Fla.-based Betancourt Sports Nutrition LLC’s Glutamine Plus utilzes Kyowa Hakko’s Sustamine L-Alanyl-L-Glutamine to support its advanced recovery system proposition. Although the body produces glutamine, at times of heavy workouts or extreme body stress, the body cannot keep up with demand, the company notes. According to the company, the ingredient helps the body recover in three ways: replacing lost electrolytes and fluids, repairing damaged muscle proteins, and refilling the body’s energy stores.

NutriForce Sports, a brand of Miami Lakes, Fla.-based Nutriforce Nutrition, also uses Kyowa Hakko’s Sustamine L-Alanyl-L-Glutamine in its Balanced Hydration brand. Balanced Hydration mixes one scoop of the mix with 16 ounces of water. This provides the essential electrolytes, minerals and salts to help the body absorb the water, according to the company.

Looking ahead

 In a report released in early 2014, Chicago-based Mintel reported that the energy drinks category recorded growth of 17 percent in 2012 and 2013 and is expected to continue to experience increases through 2018. Mintel suggests that companies consider gender when marketing energy drink products to men and women. In a survey, 79 percent of women aged 18 to 34 who drink energy beverages agree that companies should include recommended daily consumption limits on their packaging versus 71 percent of men. Also, 62 percent of women aged 35 and older say they are concerned about the safety of energy drinks compared with just 51 percent of men. However, most people who use energy drinks do so because they find them to be effective in providing the energy they need. Thirty-five percent find them convenient, and 31 percent drink them because they like the taste, according to Mintel.