13 October 2009, 13:42 PM
  • After a 51 percent growth between 2004 and 2008, sales of sports and energy drinks continue to rise, according to latest research from market analysts, Mintel

While non-alcoholic markets, such as smoothies and bottled water, tussled for market share over the past two years, the market for energy drinks grew to £716 million between 2007 and 2008.

During this 12-month period the market for sports drinks also swelled to £225 million and UK consumers drank a collective total of 484 million litres.

This year, the figure is expected to reach 525 million litres, explaining Mintel’s £1 billion market evaluation.

“The recession has added to the stress – and in some cases number of hours – that people are working. Energy drinks can be targeted as a facilitator and champion of this modern on-the-go lifestyle” said Jonny Forsyth, senior drinks analyst at Mintel.

However, despite impressive growth, independents are cautious about buying into a market associated with mainstream, multiple retailers.

“The energy drinks market is definitely one to watch, but delis do need to be careful; avoiding big brands that depreciate the degree to which they are considered specialist, is crucial,” said Callum Morrison, owner of Relish Deli, Edinburgh.

“Customers are prepared to pay as premium for ‘lifestyle’ drinks where health and energy are combined. Now that smaller producers are starting to tap into this niche, I’ll be watching the industry very closely,” he adds.

Mr Morrison has already identified his target audience. “Lots of our customers are young professionals who want this type of product for the office, so I am not surprised by the prediction of continued growth,” he explains.

One retailer is now thinking about making his own energy drinks, using fresh vegetables from the farm.

“Go back to the days of old and people got their energy from natural means such as beetroot juice. Indeed there are small artisan producers already developing products with this in mind,” said James Ingle, owner of James Ingle’s Farm Shop, Carleton.

“If the markets is approached from this perspective, it could have serious sales scope for the speciality food sector in 2010. The key is to ensure customers don’t hear alarm bells shouting ‘chemicals’ when they see energy drinks in your shop. If marketed correctly, energy, nutrition and health will be key industry drivers next year,” he concludes.

Thanks to Jeffrey Hyman, chairman of The Food & Drink Innovation Network for research used to support this story