The race is on, as latest research from Mintel finds sales of sports and energy drinks set to hit the £1 billion finishing line. After healthy growth of 51% between 2004 and 2008, sales of sports and energy drinks continue to thrive. Even in 2008, as economic pressures put the skids on previously growing non-alcoholic markets such as smoothies and bottled water, this market grew by 10% from £855 million in 2007 to reach £941 million in 2008. Volume sales are also impressive, last year we knocked back some 484 million litres of the stuff, also up 10% on 2007 (442 million litres).  In 2009, for the first time, the market is estimated to reach 525 million litres and a value of just over £1 billion.
What is more, the thirst for these sprightly beverages is set to continue. Indeed, over the next five years, value sales are forecast to increase by an energetic 48% to reach £1.5 billion, whilst volume sales will rise by 44% to reach 757 million litres.
Within the market, it is energy drinks which are driving the sales. Indeed, the energy drinks market (£716 million) currently dwarfs sports drinks, with 2008 value sales of £225 million. In terms of actual sales, the energy drinks market experienced a £241 million increase between 2004 and 2008, in contrast to £89 million for sports drinks.
Jonny Forsyth, Senior Drinks Analyst at Mintel said:
” unlike other markets such as smoothies, which were seeing impressive growth until the recession arrived, sports and energy drinks have continued to grow their value. Cash-squeezed consumers are viewing these products as value for money rather than a luxury, which stands in contrast to smoothies and bottled water, both of which have suddenly seen growth reverse. “
Despite the boost in sales, today only a third of the population actually uses sports and energy drinks, a figure which has remained static over the past five years. There has been a distinct failure to grow penetration of sports and energy drinks in the UK. Instead, the market has succeeded by increasing frequency of drinking amongst young male converts in particular.
“The challenge for the industry going forward is to grow its user base by successfully targeting females, 35-54 year olds and workers. This means increasingly stealing share from carbonates and bottled water in particular. The problem is that energy drinks appeal most to the physically active and men aged between 15 and 34 do more exercise than anyone else. A more mainstream opportunity lies in targeting mental rather than physical energy. ” adds Jonny.
As many as 27 million of us work compared to only 12 million of the population actively involved in sports. Many of these people are juggling multiple pressures such as kids, a demanding job, a relationship, friends and hobbies.

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