Energy drinks have enjoyed remarkable success in Germany in the last few years, with recent Mintel research revealing that the German market recorded the highest share of new energy drink product launches in 2015, overtaking the US for the first time.

Along with its growth, the energy drinks sector has evolved over the years, moving towards healthier, more natural formulations. This development has coincided with the booming popularity of vegetarianism and veganism in Germany. Typically associated with food, the much-hyped trend to veganism has recently also become more relevant for the energy drinks market.

Taurine, one of the most common stimulants present in energy drinks, is an amino acid that is originally derived from animals, but is generally used in a synthetic form and is thus vegan-friendly. But, until recently, only a negligible share of energy drinks were marketed as containing no animal ingredients. However, realising the drawing power of the booming vegan market, a growing number of energy drink brands are now embarking on the vegan route. This development has been particularly evident in Germany, where the share of energy drinks launches with a vegan claim jumped from close to zero in 2012 to an impressive 7% in 2015.

Vegan power takes centre stage

Rather than being a mere add-on, the vegan positioning has taken centre stage in a number of energy drinks launches in Germany. One brand following this strategy is “Vegan-Powergy” by young start-up Drinkthing. The energy drinks range can be purchased in four different variants, orange-carrot-peach, orange-passionfruit, cola and “strong one”. The drinks contain the maximum concentration of caffeine allowed by German law (32mg/100ml) and include 100% natural ingredients. The products retail in an eye-catching modern design, targeting young, lifestyle-oriented consumers.

Vegan energy drink    Vegan energy drinks 2     Strawberry Flavoured Energy Drink    Sour Apple Energy Drink

The majority of vegan energy drinks are positioned in the natural energy segment, with some using the supporting “organic” claim. They are also often blurring the lines with other drink categories, such as juice or tea. Importantly, the vegan energy drinks niche is not only driven by small specialist players; even PepsiCo’s newly launched Rockstar Organic brand promotes its vegan formulation on the front label. Likewise, the entire 28 Black energy drinks range by Calidris 28 is marketed as taurine-free, all-natural and vegan.

By increasingly experimenting with healthier and more natural formulations, energy drink brands are speaking to a wider user base by addressing the expectations of a more critical, demanding consumer. Veganism, as a perceived form of a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, has become increasingly popular; and energy drinks, like other food and drink sectors, can profit from the vegan boom by using vegan labels in conjunction with other wellness claims. However, in the name of transparency and authenticity, brands should consider labelling products as “naturally vegan”

Julia Büch is a Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel. She specialises in delivering insights on issues affecting the German food and drink market, providing analysis across a range of food and drink categories. Previously Trend & Innovation Consultant at Mintel, Julia was responsible for providing tailored product innovation analysis and client support primarily to Mintel’s German speaking clients.

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