The Japanese continue to lead the world in the consumption of sports and energy drinks, according to a report from global beverage research specialists, Canadean.
Consumption of these drinks in Japan stands at about 15 litres per capita, the researchers noted. By comparison, the average US citizen consumes only about half this much. Between them, they account for 80 per cent of the world's consumption of sports and energy drinks.
Japan's predominance in this sector is hardly surprising given the fact functional drinks have long been considered mainstream products, according to Carole Burke, publisher of JapanScan, a monthly periodical that specialises in the country's functional food and beverages market.
"These products are thought of in the same way as regular soft drinks and juices, and many of them don't carry a price premium either, which boosts their sales," she said.
The Japanese sports drink market, which sells 60 per cent of its products through vending machines, has traditionally been dominated by local company Otsuka's Pocari Sweat, but this beverage was usurped by Coca-Cola's Aquarius brand in 2002. Other beverages doing well in this sector include Suntory's Dakara, Dydo's Miu, Kirin's Speed and newly launched Samurai brands.
Otsuka's Oranamin C dominates the energy drinks segment, followed by Coca-Cola's Real Gold and Suntory's Deka Vita C.
Four other Asian nations are positioned within the world's top 10 per capita consumption markets while other developing nations in the region have recorded steep growth rates (e.g. 24 per cent per annum in Indonesia since 1996).
Other markets expected to see exponential growth in the coming years are the Middle East and North Africa, albeit again from low-volume starting points.
Worldwide consumption is expected to exceed 11 billion litres by 2005, the report predicts, with added consumption from older sectors of the population boosting sales.