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Sports beverages muscle healthy 10% annual growth.

Sports drinks are intended to replenish the water and electrolytes people lose when they exercise vigorously. Most of them also furnish carbohydrates to restock energy. These refreshing drinks are marketed to a broad audience. Anyone who exercises for recreation or competition, as well as people who work in industrial settings, are targeted.

Active people who enjoy the refreshment of sports drinks now have more choices than ever before. New contenders in this arena are being introduced by many beverage companies.

Who are potential sports drink consumers? According to figures from the National Sporting Goods Association, almost everybody. They say that 220 million Americans exercise. Of these, 70 million walk for recreation, 54 million bike, 39 million use exercise equipment, 26 million play basketball, 26 million participate in aerobics, and 23 million run. In addition, it's estimated that one quarter of American workers perform strenuous labor on the job.

There's another group of sports drinks aimed at top competitive athletes like bicycle racers, marathon runners, triathletes, and track and field stars. These drinks offer "carbo-loading" or nutritional supplementation.

Why consume sports drinks? To replace fluids the body loses during strenuous exercise by sweating. Sweating is the body's means of cooling itself down from the increase in body temperature caused by the constant contraction of working muscles. Lower fluid levels in the body contribute to a rapid heart beat and a diminished ability to eliminate heat. Increased body temperature adversely affects performance ability, accelerates fatigue, and eventually brings on heat illnesses.

Exercise physiologists for Gatorade, the best selling sports drink in the category, recommend drinking 8-12 oz of fluid 10-20 minutes before any physical activity. Four to eight ounces of fluid should be consumed every 10-20 minutes during strenuous exercise. More should be drunk after exercise. Their research shows that carbohydrates in a beverage increase gastric emptying rate and intestinal absorption. The carbohydrates in a sports drink also enhance performance by maintaining fuel levels available to muscles. Muscles oxidize glucose during exercise, and consuming carbohydrates maintains blood glucose.

10% annual growth

Of all the soft drinks sold in the United States, sports drinks are but a small proportion. Americans purchased 12.2 billion gallons of soft drinks in 1991. Of that, 293 million gallons were sports drinks, according to the report "New Age & Sports Beverages in the U.S.: 1992" by Beverage Marketing Corp. About $737 million were spent on sports drinks in 1991 and about $81 2 million are projected for 1992. The estimated growth rate is about 10% a year.

Flavor technology

Ingredients of sports drinks include salts (mainly sodium and potassium) for electrolyte replacements. Their carbohydrate sources are fructose, glucose, or sucrose, in some cases in combination. The most popular flavors are natural fruit, with orange, lemon-lime, and fruit punch being the top sellers. Other flavors in some brands are grape, mixed berry, or lemonade.

Flavors have to work extra hard in sports drinks because of the salts. The drinks have to taste good although some of the salts contribute harsh flavor notes.

"Flavors have to cover the taste and still deliver clean, refreshing beverages you can drink a large quantity of," says Tom Buco, Business Development Manager, Givaudan-Roure.

Dr. Robert Peterson, Director of Flavor Development, Haarmann & Reimer, agrees that flavors have a major role in sports drink palatability.

"They can provide a masking effect which delivers a more pleasing end product that can contribute to increased overall consumption of the beverage," he reports. "Mineral salts are probably the most difficult to mask, due to their astringency, bitterness, and saltiness, with vitamins being a close second due to their bitterness, sulfur notes (i.e., thiamine), and overall foreign taste in the finished product. Consequently, each base must be examined individually. In general, citrus flavors tend to be acceptable with the mineral salts if acidity is adjusted, which tends to offset the salty character."

Flavors especially formulated for sports drinks have also been introduced by Edgar A. Weber & Co. The line includes citrus blend, orange, lemon, grapefruit, fruit punch, passionfruit, and grape. The flavors are WONF and MWNI. Usage levels are less than 0.3% by volume.

Mainstream marketing

"Sports beverages fit into the trend for healthier beverages," says Max Blum, Marketing Manager, Food Business Unit, Hoffmann-LaRoche. "They are not only for exercise, they are now an occasional drink."

There is also a shift in thinking about sodium and carbohydrates, he adds. "Up to now sport beverages were designed to replace electrolytes, mainly sodium, but most people get plenty of sodium in their diet. Extra sodium is critical for people on prolonged strenuous exercise. New products are coming out with lower sodium." Many of the light or lite products are also lower in carbohydrates.

Indeed, Gatorade, the market leader, now has a light version. Quaker Oats Co.'s Gatorade claims to have 90% of the market. An 8-oz serving of Gatorade provides 50 calories, potassium, sodium, chloride, and phosphorus. Six percent carbohydrate levels are supplied by sucrose and glucose. An 8 oz serving of Gatorade Light has half the calories of the regular beverage, and they are supplied by glucose and saccharin. Sodium level is also lower, at 80 mg per 8 oz, compared with 110 mg for regular Gatorade. The nearest competitors to Gatorade, which each control less than 3% of the market, are Powerburst from Western Canada Beverage Corp. and 10-K from Suntory Water Group.

A whole squad of new challengers has entered the market recently, with considerable marketing and distribution power. Pepsi-Cola Co. has launched its All Sport Thirst Quencher in three flavors-lemon-lime, orange, and fruit punch. It is lightly carbonated for a refreshing, thirst quenching beverage. Carbohydrate levels are 8.5%. Sodium level is 55 mg per 8-oz serving, and the drink is available in about a quarter of the U.S.

For people who want their refreshment without the carbohydrates, and the resulting calories, All Sport comes in a light version. The aspartame sweetened drink has only two calories per 8-oz serving. It is available in lemon-lime flavor.

PowerAde sports drink was introduced last spring by the Coca-Cola Co. Initial markets are Birmingham, AL, Chattanooga, TN, and Augusta and Savannah, GA. Non-carbonated PowerAde comes in lemon-lime, orange, and fruit punch. Carbohydrate level is 8% and derived from high fructose corn syrup and glucose. Sodium level is a little lower than some others at 73 mg per 8-oz serving. In addition to retail outlets like supermarkets and convenience stores, Coca-Cola is marketing its beverage at "point of sweat," places like health clubs, and industrial job sites.

Leveraging brand equity

Some of the new market entries are identified with popular brands of sporting equipment. A & W Brands began marketing Everlast Sports Drink in August 1992 in the Greenville-Asheville, SC area. National rollout will progress during 1993. The soft drink company and the boxing equipment company have a trademark agreement concerning the name.

Latching on to another trend, Everlast is a clear beverage. The company believes that its clarity connotes a pure, natural product. Four natural flavors are offered: lemon-lime, grape, orange, and mixed berry.

Dr. Pepper's sports drink is called Nautilus, which is also the name of the well-known maker of weight-training machinery. Nautilus is sweetened with aspartame, so it has only 2 calories per 8 oz serving. For those who want to replenish their energy there's Nautilus Plus, with 60 calories per 8-oz serving, sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. Nautilus beverages are lightly carbonated. Introduced in 1992, their marketing area is in the South: East Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and parts of New Mexico, Tennessee, and Arkansas. Flavors are orange, lemon-lime, and punch.

Other major companies with sports drinks are Cadbury Beverages, with Energade, and Shasta Beverages with Bodyworks. Shasta's drink is now in test markets on the West Coast and Midwest, and comes in lemon-lime, orange, and tropical punch flavors.

Some sports drinks are marketed regionally, like Carolina Products of Greer, SC's Gold Medal Sports Beverage. The company, whose main product is apple juice, sells its drinks in the Southeastern markets of Birmingham, Atlanta, and Charleston-Savannah. Flavors are lemon-lime and orange, with Exceed sports beverages are packaged in aseptic drink boxes fruit punch and lemonade to be added soon.

Drinks for professionals

Some athletes go beyond a game or two of tennis or a round of the weight training machines. These are professional and top competitive athletes. For them, sports beverage companies offer energy and protein drinks. A high carbohydrate diet is recommended during the two or three days prior to an athletic event. Carbohydrates are also recommended after strenuous exercise. They build and then replenish the body's stores of glycogen, which is transformed into blood glucose and used for energy.

At the highest levels of competition, athletes can expend so much energy that they may not eat enough calories at meals to satisfy their body's needs. Or they may be trying to build up their muscle mass. Nutritional beverages offer these athletes a complete listing of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals.

Gatorade is in the market with its Gatorlode for carbohydrate loading. Gatorpro Sports Nutrition Supplement supplies the full gamut of nourishment and fortification.

Ross Laboratories, in addition to providing a fluid replenishing sports drink under the Exceed name, is in this market. Also in the Exceed line is their High Carbohydrate Source and their Sports Nutrition Supplement.

Another of the many companies with such beverages, Ultimate Strength takes a slightly different approach. They have a Sport Cooler, a fluid and salt replenishing drink, and Carbocooler for carbohydrates and fluids. They also have a drink called Aminocooler specifically to provide extra protein. For those interested in complete nutrition, they offer Proteam, a high protein shake with protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Ideal nutrition for top athletes

Perhaps the sports drink market needs to become more diversified in meeting the needs of different population segments, suggests Max Blum of Hoffmann-LaRoche. Many people indulge in light or moderate exercise and many use sports beverages as an all occasion drink, he says. Athletes who engage in prolonged, strenuous exercise need more energy, mainly in the form of carbohydrates. Sports drinks are also being marketed to children, and perhaps some of them should be formulated to meet their needs.

Dr. Blum outlines the role that vitamins and minerals play in the metabolism of athletes:

Athletes require Vitamin C for maintaining healthy bones, tendons, and cartilages. During exercise, oxygenation in the body is increased, and more free radicals are produced. The antioxidant nutrients Vitamin C, E, and betacarotene have been shown to reduce generation of free radicals.

Minerals are also important, but not a high salt load because a certain amount of sodium can be stored in bones and made available under strenuous conditions. Magnesium and potassium have a protective effect on the heart. The extreme stress of exercise can strain the heart, and the right balance of these minerals can be protective. Magnesium is not easy to add to a beverage because a soluble form must be used, and also, it has an unpleasant flavor.

The B Vitamins are also important because they help the body release energy from carbohydrates and fats and to use proteins efficiently. Vitamin B6 is especially important because it helps metabolize proteins for muscle building, moreover it plays an important role in eliminating excess protein which the body has to get rid of.

To guard against sports-induced anemia, which may trouble top athletes, folic acid, Vitamin B12, and iron are needed to build red blood cells. Vitamin C enhances iron absorption from cereals and other iron sources.

More information on flavors for sports drinks is available from the following companies: Givaudan-Roure, 100 Delawanna Ave., Clifton, NJ 07015.

Haarmann & Reimer Corp., Box 175, Springfield, NJ 07081.

Edgar A. Weber & Co., 549 Palwaukee Dr., P.O. Box 546, Wheeling, IL 60090.

For more information on nutritional fortification, contact Hoffmann-LaRoche Inc., Vitamins and Fine Chemicals Div., Nutley, NJ 07110.

The report "New Age & Sports Beverages in the U.S.: 1992" is available from Beverage Marketing Corp., 850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022.
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Title Annotation:includes related article on marketing
Author:LaBell, Fran
Publication:Food Processing
Date:Dec 1, 1992
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