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Energy still dominates functional market

  As a functional health benefit, energy remains at the top of consumers' minds. What companies remain dominant in the midst of high growth?

It would be tough to argue that any product is leading the functional market quite like energy drinks. At 62 percent of the $41 billion functional market, beverages remain the most lively functional category, growing 10 percent in 2011 with $2.3 billion in new sales, according to NBJ estimates. “Energy still seems to be a very good area,” says Dan Murray of Xsto Solutions, “and what supplies the energy isn’t all that important.” Xsto supplies ribose—a proven saccharide for efficient ATP production—but Murray cites repeated examples of his company losing business to caffeine or guarana.

As a functional health benefit, energy remains a highly compelling proposition to consumers. In the United States last year, sales of energy drinks rose 15 percent to $7.6 billion, according to NBJ research. Shots, meanwhile, enjoyed annual growth of 21 percent to $1.6 billion. This would be an impressive performance for any category at any time, but in the midst of a global economic downturn, it’s nothing short of staggering.

The dominant players in the market continued to grow leaps and bounds last year, with Red Bull controlling a 40 percent dollar share of the beverage category and Living Essentials’ 5-Hour Energy brand enjoying a 29 percent year-on-year uplift in volume sales—from seven million bottles a week in 2010 to nine million last year, according to company estimates.

According to Julian Mellentin of New Nutrition Business, energy is “one of the largest, most successful and most profitable markets.” He adds: “It’s a market that has proven to be recession-proof and it’s a market that still presents a wealth of opportunities. Energy is a great example of the marketing power of enabling consumers to ‘feel the benefit’ of a functional product.”

Fi: What is the key market driver? Does a product need to be experiential (i.e. provide a buzz) in order to compete in this sector?

Chris LockwoodChris Lockwood, PhD, CSCS, technical consultant, TSI

If the previous 1,3-Dimethyl [DMAA] trend within the sports nutrition and energy categories says anything about the market drivers within the energy set, it’s that consumers are unfortunately associating nervous energy, or anxiety, with physical and mental energy.

In other words, brands that are now well established within the aforementioned categories can easily trace their respective rise to brand identity prominence almost solely on the heels of products that were dosed with over 300mg of caffeine plus high-dose DMAA and yohimbine HCl, plus other stimulant-claiming compounds.

Therefore, even though the scientific data clearly shows a point of diminishing returns, and even counter-productive effects on performance and mental acuity tasks when stimulants are consumed beyond an optimal dose, consumers have overwhelmingly shown that they’re instead searching for more and more of a stimulant effect.

To further make this point, one need only look at a local convenience-store drink cooler where 16- and 20-oz energy drinks dominate where 8-oz cans once took up shelf space. In other words, rising product sales for energy drinks claiming “2x Energy” or “Extra Caffeine” only validate this consumer trend for more stimulants, agree with it or not.

The positive side of this trend is that it’s formed a clear distinction between the mental acuity (or focus) and stimulant categories. Thus, it presents an opportunity for companies with the brand savvy to market wisely and aggressively to fulfill this now well-defined consumer demand within distinctively different categories.

Fi: How does your Peak-ATP ingredient fit into the overall energy picture?

CL: Put simply, the energy benefit of Peak ATP is derived from the roles that extracellular ATP and its adenine nucleotide metabolite, adenosine, possess in supporting increased oxygen, glucose and nutrient delivery to tissues that have high oxygen and glucose demands.  Specifically, both ATP and adenosine are potent cell signaling agents when their concentrations are even transiently increased in nanomolar concentrations within the extracellular environment. These small and transient changes have been shown to have profound and lasting effects on vasodilation (blood flow), for example. Increasing blood flow to the skeletal muscles during or post-exercise, can increase training volume and recovery, respectively; increasing blood flow to the brain while studying or at work could support increased mental focus and efficiency.

Therefore, unlike a typical “stimulant” such as caffeine, oral ATP should be considered as more complimentary than duplicative if one were formulating a caffeine-containing product.

Fi: What new studies do you have backing your ingredient?

CL: A research paper is currently in peer review that presents evidence that Peak ATP decreases muscle fatigue and helps maintain greater force output later within repeated exercise sets. Another exercise trial, that’s just wrapping up, has been looking at the effects of 400mg of Peak ATP, per day, over 12 weeks, on measures of strength, power, total working capacity, body composition, blood flow and safety in resistance trained males.

Another study, currently underway, is assessing the dose response of Peak ATP on blood flow at rest, and during exercise and recovery, versus water control and a typical dose of L-Arginine. What we’re trying to assess is the minimal and maximally effective dose of Peak ATP, so that formulators will have a clearer understanding of the effects their consumers are likely to experience at varying doses.

And, lastly, subject recruitment is currently underway in a trial that’s assessing the effects of Peak ATP on vasodilation-mitigated improvements in sexual function and satisfaction, in adult males. We’re anticipating being able to begin presenting some of the data from at least a couple of these trials, beginning in late Fall or Winter 2012.


Condition Specific Directory: ENERGY

Albion, Human Nutrition Division

Creatine MagnaPower (magnesium creatine chelate)



Palatinose isomaltulose ingredient


Bergstrom Nutrition



Bioenergy Life Science Inc.

Bioenergy Ribose

Ribose the most critical energy component of ATP. Unless your muscles have an adequate supply of ATP, they simply cannot satisfy their astonishing energy demand. Our bodies make ribose naturally, but often the need is greater than the supply to satisfy the loss of ATP from our cells. That is why supplementing with Bioenergy Ribose is so important.


[email protected]

Andover, Minnesota



AlphaSize Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline (A-GPC)


Humanetics Corp.

Inzitol pinitol ingredient



KanekaQ10, yeast fermented


National Enzyme Co.

ZIP EX2 — enzymes, b vitamins and herbs for energy





NP Nutra



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Nutratech Inc.

Advantra Z


Nutrition 21

Chromax chromium picolinate

Nutrition 21's Chromax chromium picolinate helps maintain body energy by reducing insulin resistance and supporting glucose metabolism. According to a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice, chromium picolinate can boost energy by improving glucose metabolism to help keep energy levels constant throughout the day.

[email protected]


Purchase, New York


P.L. Thomas



Trace Minerals Research

ConcenTrace Ionic Trace Mineral Complex


TSI Health Sciences Inc.

PEAK ATP, Promilin (20% 4-Hydroxyisoleucine), PromilinPro (60% 4-Hydroxyisoleucine)


Unigen Inc.

Acceleris ginseng complex

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