Mintel: Energy Drink Ingredients Continue Down Unhealthy Path

Despite ongoing media coverage about the unhealthy aspects of energy drinks, newer energy drinks aren’t any healthier than the older ones, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), which reveals the latest energy drink launches aren’t getting any healthier.

Despite this, sales of the popular beverage continue to grow, rising more than 240 percent from 2004 to 2009. During the same period, a flood of new energy drinks hit the market, with new product launches up by more than 110 percent, Chicago-based Mintel reported.

Analyzing the ingredients in energy drinks launched between 2004 and 2008, Mintel GNPD found caffeine in nearly all products produced. Meanwhile, taurine, another popular yet controversial energy-boosting ingredient, was found in more than one in four (27 percent) energy drinks in 2004, but fell slightly to one in five (21 percent) in 2008.

“There is a significant market right now for drinks offering a boost of energy,” noted Lynn Dornblaser, Mintel global new products expert. “Although consumers say they try to eat and drink better, it appears energy drinks is not a category in which that happens, as they continue to choose options that contain sugar, caffeine and taurine, all of which can have negative effects if consumed in excess.”

Mintel found suppliers are producing some new energy drinks that boast more health-focused claims, but they are in the minority. Energy drinks showing a “low-, no- or reduced” calorie claim have increased from 6 percent to 11 percent between 2004 and 2008. Within the same timeframe, energy drinks featuring a “low-, no- or reduced” sugar claim have held steady at one in seven new launches. In addition, use of better-for-you energizers such as vitamin B6 and guarana has remained flat, appearing in approximately 22 percent and 12 percent of new product launches, respectively.

In 2008, Ocean Spray introduced a line of Cranergy Energy Drinks billed as “naturally energizing.” This line of drinks contains real fruit juice and natural energizers, including five B vitamins, vitamin C and green tea extract. Bazza High-Energy Tea, another new energy-inducing beverage made from green tea and EGCG antioxidants, calls itself the “smarter high-energy alternative.”

According to Dornblaser: “These new, natural energy-enhancing products could threaten to steal share from their less healthy counterparts. Often, they are not sold in the energy drinks aisle, but in the juice or alternative beverage aisle, which may protect them from the unhealthy stigma some consumers associate with energy drinks.”

- Nielsen Business Media
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