Guayakí Yerba Mate - A Powerful Rainforest Experience
Buzz in the PressStar Performers
By SARAH THEODORE
New formulation trends in sports and energy drinks
In this age of functionality no beverage has received as much attention as the energy drink. The category promises not only increased stamina but vitamins, minerals and numerous other ingredients designed for performance. Combined with sports drinks and functional waters, energy drinks have created a "performance beverage" phenomenon that crosses category lines.
Both energy drinks and sports drinks have clear category leaders - Red Bull and Gatorade, respectively. But both segments also have inspired numerous competitors, all attempting to differentiate themselves with unique formulations. During the past year, 120 new energy drinks have hit the U.S. market, according to Mintel International's Global New Products Database. Vitamin and mineral content is the leading claim among the new entries, followed by "low/no/reduced calories," "low/no/reduced sugar," "low/no/reduced carbohydrates," and "organic." The organic claim is a new and growing niche. It did not make it into the top five claims during the previous year, although "all natural" was represented.
Fewer sports drinks have been created during the past year, according to Mintel, but several entries came from category leader Gatorade, which highlights the changes taking place in that category.
Twenty-seven new sports drinks have been launched in the United States during the past year. Similar to energy drinks, vitamin and mineral fortification tops the list of product claims, followed by "low/no/reduced sugar," "low/no/reduced calories," "all natural" and "no additives or preservatives." The "no additives" claim was the top getter during the previous year, and "low sodium," which did not even make the list this year, was third on the list of popular claims, indicating a shift in the category's priorities in 2007.
Performance beverages are moving to more complex formulations, says Ram Chaudhari, chief scientific officer at Fortitech Inc., Schenectady, N.Y., which creates customized premix blends of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and herbal ingredients for beverages, including energy and sports drinks.
"Gatorade is a good example," he says. "It's a very effective hydration beverage containing electrolytes. However, there is a new generation that takes a Gatorade type [drink] and then you add to it a mineral like zinc and magnesium and some of the B vitamins that are energy boosters."
Gatorade, in fact, introduced several new products last month as part of PepsiCo's "Hydration Portfolio," which includes the Gatorade brand, Propel waters, SoBe Life Water and Aquafina. New G2 is a hydration formulation for off-the-field use that contains the same electrolyte balance - 110 mg. of sodium and 30 mg. of potassium - as the brand's flagship product, but half the carbohydrates and calories, at 7 grams of carbohydrates and 25 calories per 8-ounce serving.
The company also rolled out new Propel Invigorating Water, a caffeinated version of Propel Fit Water. The product contains 20 mg. of caffeine, as well as vitamins B6, B3 and B5.
The new products showcase the crossover trends between sports drinks, energy drinks and fortified waters that have taken place during the past year. Ingredients such as electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, caffeine and other energy boosters are showing up in all three types of products.
"I think it's broadly applicable," says Christopher Pelkey, business manager at Innophos, Cranbury, N.J. "I'll use the analogy of a leading multivitamin and their advertising 'From A to Z.' I think this is what you're seeing in beverages. They're looking to get everything from A to Z in terms of minerals and benefits to the consumer."
Innophos supplies mineral ingredients such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium for beverage and food applications. Potassium is especially important to sports drinks, according to Amr Shaheed, head of technical service/beverages, at Innophos. "As exercise happens, you lose a lot of potassium by sweating," he says. "Potassium is an immediate way of replacing what's being lost."
Shaheed points out that a number of potential sports drink options exist, ranging from hypotonic to isotonic formulations. Hypotonic beverages contain an electrolyte content that is lower than a cell's normal balance, thus encouraging the cells to take in additional fluids. Hypotonic products are important for the immediate hydration needs during exercise. An isotonic formulation seeks to provide the same electrolyte balance as a cell's normal levels, still providing hydration, but at a somewhat slower rate.
Innophos also recently added VersaCal Clear calcium phosphate for use in clear beverages such as sports and energy drinks. The ingredient combines calcium and phosphorus, which work synergistically, and is said to have a clean aftertaste as well as a clear appearance.
The number of products that combine the attributes of energy and sports drinks will continue to grow during the coming months. One example is Endorush from BSN Inc., which combines the functions of both sports and energy drinks with amino acids, electrolytes, caffeine, vitamins and minerals.
"With the vast number of products entering the burgeoning energy drink market, we feel that in order for a product to differentiate itself from the rest, it must be more than just a caffeine-based energy drink," says Sal Abraham director of research and development/quality control at BSN Inc., the Boca Raton, Fla.-based maker of Endorush.
"Endorush attacks energy and performance enhancement from every conceivable angle, making it perfect for high-intensity sports, workouts, club-going, studying, a high-adrenaline workplace, a morning walk-up call, or any time you need more energy," he says.
Building on the model
In addition to hydration and energy ingredients, many products are incorporating muscle-building proteins, peptides and branched chain amino acids, Chaudhari says.
"The industry is moving a little more toward some of the nutrients such as branched chain amino acids, whey protein or soy protein isolate, much more now than they used to," he says. Fortitech offers about 25 varieties of amino acids for beverage and food fortification.
Reto Rieder, national accounts manager at DSM Food Specialties, Murrieta, Calif., agrees. "In terms of sports drinks, the trend and science clearly indicate the inclusion of protein in a sports drink, going from hydration drinks to hydration and muscle recovery drinks," he says.
DSM offers PeptoPro casein hydrolysate, which provides short-chain peptides in a water-soluble format. According to Rieder, the ingredient offers a significant amount of dipeptides and tripeptides for quick absorption, offering endurance and muscle recovery benefits. The ingredient can be used in both ready-to-drink and powdered beverages. It recently was added to ElectroPro from Now Foods, Bloomingdale, Ill., and Complete Pitcher Carbo Load and Power Hitter's Protein products from Kodiak Nutrition International, Hurley, N.M.
The natural way
In addition to new ingredients, Fortitech's Chaudhari says increasing numbers of companies are creating natural and organic sports and energy products. Green tea extracts, ginseng, guarana and taurine are ingredients that often show up in more natural energy products.
Yerba maté is a rising star in the natural energy world, and Guayaki Sustainable Rainforest Products, based in Sebastopol, Calif., has created an energy/sports drink hybrid in its Pure Endurance Yerba Maté drink.
Yerba maté is naturally high in nutrients, containing 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids and antioxidants, as well as caffeine, according to the company. In addition to the maté in Pure Endurance, the beverage contains ginseng and electrolytes, primarily derived from Himalayan salt, says Pierre Ferrari, vice president of marketing at Guayaki.
"[The salt] contains not only sodium chloride, but also potassium and a range of other interesting minerals that the body needs in trace amounts. The whole product is organic, completely natural, a sophisticated herbal sports drink.
"It's just one example of how a particular plant and a natural perspective on it, can have more than one function," he adds. "That's what's so interesting about the plant world - it's so much more sophisticated and much more successful at delivering multiple benefits."
Many athletes, particularly those involved in extreme sports, already are familiar with yerba maté, the company says. "If you think about it, there are many different categories of sports people," says David Karr, co-founder of Guayaki. "[Within the company] we're all very outdoor oriented, very much sports enthusiasts ourselves €¦ Those are the athletes that have been coming to us. They've been using our products for years."
The Healthy Beverage Co., Newtown, Pa., created Steaz Energy, which it dubbed Organic Fuel for the Mind, Body and Soul. The product derives its caffeine content from green tea. It contains 80 mg. of caffeine per 12-ounce can, as well as yerba maté, acai berry and guarana.
Taking a similar tack, the Organic Beverage Co.'s Syzmo Organic Energy Drink contains green tea extract, guarana extract and yerba maté, as well as coffee fruit and vitamins C, B2, B6, B3, B8 and B12. The product is sweetened with blue agave, and in keeping with the trend toward low-sugar/low-carb energy drinks, carries a "Glycemic Index Tested" logo, stating that it is a low-glycemic beverage.
Inko's, Englewood, N.J., rolled out Inko's White Tea Energy earlier this year, making use of caffeine derived from white tea. It calls the product an "Adult Energy Drink" and says the white tea offers a "jitter-free" boost of energy.
Hansen Beverage Co., Corona, Calif., runs the gamut from natural to traditional energy drinks. The company offers the No. 2 best seller in the category, Monster Energy Drink, but also features Blue Sky Blue Energy and Blue Sky Juiced Energy, both with a natural profile. Both Blue Sky varieties contain taurine, ginseng, L-carnitine and B vitamins, and Juiced Energy offers 50 percent juice content. Adding to the Monster line, the company went back to basics this year with Java Monster, a product based on the original energy drink, coffee.
And in a world where everyone is competing to have two or three times the caffeine of coffee, the FRS Co., Santa Barbara, Calif., launched FRS Healthy Energy with half the caffeine of a cup of coffee. The company says the key to its product is quercetin, a plant-based antioxidant. It also contains vitamins A, C, E, B6, B12 and niacin.
No matter what type of performance beverage you are formulating, Fortitech's Chaudhari recommends researching ingredients, including any complementary ingredients that may help make those nutrients more bioavailable. In addition, he says, beverage-makers should pay attention to the type of processing a product will be subjected to. Thermal processing at certain temperatures or for certain lengths of time, for example, could damage some ingredients or result in off-flavors. And he suggests showing a bit of restraint when adding ingredients, even beneficial ones.
"I believe in a little bit more conservative approach rather than 100 percent of whatever nutrient it may be," he says. "Depending on the [ingredient], you've got to have, along with that, some carbohydrate, protein and even fat in order to really use some of those co-factors effectively, so you can get the benefit you are looking for.
"In order to deliver these nutrients in a most effective way, one has to understand the chemical interactions so they do not give a bad taste and they deliver the same nutrients in a refreshing form of beverage."
Most energy drinks contain caffeine - sometimes from unexpected sources such as green tea or yerba maté. Coffee is the gold standard when it comes to caffeine content, with about 100 mg. per 8-ounce cup., while tea contains between 30 and 50 mg. per 8-ounce cup and soft drinks anywhere from 25 to 50 mg. per 12-ounce serving.
Consumer Reports tested energy drinks this summer and found caffeine content ranged between 50 mg. and 145 mg. per 8-ounce serving, and most were in the 75 to 80 mg. range - roughly the same as coffee. However, the report pointed out, today's energy drinks typically contain more than one 8-ounce serving per container.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the average person should keep caffeine intake to less than 500 mg. to avoid restlessness, anxiety and headaches, among other possible side effects.