Consumption of energy drinks have reached record levels (500M litres in 2013) in the UK, as a survey carried out by research firm Canadean showed around one in 10 Brits consumed them last year.
Despite healthy sales, six out of 10 consumers asked by Canadean believed energy drink consumption was bad for their health and they were also concerned about the ingredients they contained.
“Moreover, 72% of all respondents who drink energy drinks think that there should be a restriction on the sale of energy and stimulant drinks to children,” said Thomas Delaney, Canadean analyst.
Negative online news about energy drinks was also highlighted as a potential issue for the sector, said Delaney.
“More and more consumers exchange reviews and opinions about food and drinks ingredients online and are able to look up dubious additives and e-numbers quickly,” he warned.
“This means that manufacturers need to become more transparent regarding their ingredients and react fast to negative news online.”
Some energy drink manufacturers had already adopted taurine-free ingredients, following a recent spate of negative press about amino sulphonic acids, which were commonly used in the sector, Delaney pointed out.
Press reports had linked amino sulphonic acids to increased blood pressure, seizures, strokes and heart disease, he added.
Some companies seized the increase in consumer health awareness for use in their brand and marketing activities.
Natural, plant-based and coffee-based drinks were all emerging areas of interest for consumers and something energy drink manufacturers should consider, claimed Delaney.
Red Bull and Monster Energy, the two biggest players in the energy drink market, had not reformulated with natural ingredients, however.
“Although the two biggest players have not yet incorporated taurine-free energy drinks in their product ranges, Red Bull’s sugar-free and zero calorie variants and Monster Energy’s absolutely zero beverages attest to a trend towards healthier drinks,” Delaney said.
Such innovations were a tell-tale sign of a diverging energy drinks sector, he added.
Energy drinks in figures:
- 24% of consumers drink energy drinks once a week
- 26% say weekly consumption is normal for them
- 500M litres of energy drinks consumed in 2013
- 375M litres of energy drinks consumed in 2010
- 72% if energy drink consumers say sales to children should be restricted