Global sports drink market: A fertile playground for functional drinks

    The sports drinks market has grown into a prosperous ecosystem with many opportunities. Functional drinks, which provide a combination of electrolytes, vitamins, and performance-enhancing components, have become a major player in this circumstance. This article will delve into the fruitful market of sports drinks.

    Global sports drink market: A fertile playground for functional drinks

    Various types of sports drinks

    Overview of the global sports drink market

    2023, the global sports drink market was valued at USD 25.42 billion. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, sports drinks experienced a positive demand shock across all regions. Projections indicate that the market will continue to expand, reaching USD 32.2 billion by 2029 at a CAGR of 4.02%.

    The biggest markets for sports drinks are in North America and Europe, with the U.S. having the highest global consumption. However, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East are emerging as lucrative markets with rapid product consumption.

    Reasons for this can include:

    • Rising interest in fitness activities and participation in marathons
    • The need for sports drinks increases as they enhance performance endurance, allowing athletes to engage in vigorous exercises.
    • The growing athlete population in developing countries

    So, what are the growth opportunities for manufacturers during this golden period?

    • Concerns about sugar intake and the search for healthier beverage products will shift the focus of sports drinks towards natural and beneficial ingredients. To stay ahead of this trend, brands can create low-calorie, electrolyte-rich, and nutrient-fortified formulas.
    • There is a rising demand for drinks that enhance performance, particularly in increased stamina, muscle recovery, and mental clarity, while offering refreshments. Sports drinks combined with BCAA ingredients such as caffeine will attract athletes and sports players.
    • Emerging markets such as Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East will provide opportunities for revenue growth. Companies can expand their distribution networks in these areas.
    • Personalization and flavour diversity are keywords that attract and engage consumers. Drinks aimed at particular demographics or levels of activity will become more popular.

    Future developments in the sports drink industry will require manufacturers to remain adaptable and flexible to stay competitive.

    Types of sports drink in the market

    The sports drinks market is segmented based on ingredients, functions, goals, etc. However, it is usually divided into three types: electrolyte drinks, protein-based drinks, and electrolytes-enhanced water.

    Electrolytes drinks

    Electrolyte sports drinks are beverages designed to help rehydrate and replenish lost electrolytes during or after exercise. They go beyond plain water by providing essential minerals that play a crucial role in maintaining bodily functions.  These electrolyte drinks can be further categorized into Isotonic, Hypertonic and Hypotonic Drinks.

    These drinks typically contain essential electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Some also include carbohydrates (often sugar) to replenish glycogen stores, which are depleted during exercise. Other brands add B vitamins, vitamin C, and zinc for extra benefits. They are also formulated with more flavorings and added ingredients for added drinking experience.

    Global sports drink market: A fertile playground for functional drinks

    A revolutionary natural sports drink from GoodSport, derived from the goodness of milk

    Protein-based sports drinks

    Like traditional sports drinks, protein-based sports drinks help replenish fluids and electrolytes lost during exercise. However, by adding protein, they also help support muscle recovery, repair, and growth.

    These drinks contain protein from various sources, such as:

    • Whey protein, which is derived from milk
    • Plant-based proteins like pea protein, soy protein, or rice protein cater to vegans and those with dairy allergies

    And other ingredients like carbohydrates and electrolytes.

    Global sports drink market: A fertile playground for functional drinks

    Garden of Life ready-to-drink protein sport drinks

    Electrolyte-enhanced water

    Electrolyte-enhanced water is a type of bottled water with added electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electrical charge and are necessary for various body functions. Additional electrolytes include sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

    This water is designed to help maintain or restore hydration levels, especially after physical activity, sweating, or heat exposure. The added electrolytes make electrolyte-enhanced water more effective for the body than regular water.

    Global sports drink market: A fertile playground for functional drinks

    Sportwater functional electrolyte water with 330mg electrolyte formula

    Competition in the sports drink market

    Sports drinks are a niche market catering to a very specific audience. Their use case is limited, and there’s not much room for expansion. That’s why the market is concentrated around a few big players.

    Why is the sports drink market so hard to enter?

    Entering the sports drink market can be challenging for various reasons, including a small customer base, difficulty in creating new recipes, and demanding consumers.

    • This niche market for functional beverages primarily serves athletes and sports fans.
    • Innovative products mean finding new benefits or ingredients. This is an activity that will need a lot of R&D costs. Meanwhile, the number of functional ingredients is limited (as there are only a few beneficial electrolytes/amino acids)
    • Keeping up with changing consumer preferences, such as the demand for natural ingredients and low-sugar ingredients, requires agility and adaptability and can be challenging.

    New entrants must overcome many barriers to gain a foothold in the sports drink market. Although challenging, successful entry is possible with solid product positioning, a good marketing strategy, and strong financial resources.

    Leading brands in the sports drink market

    The sports drinks market is dominated by a few leading brands. They have great success building robust brands, extensive systems for product distribution, and innovative product development.

    Otsuka Holdings Co Ltd

    Otsuka Holdings Co., Ltd. is a global company that creates innovative products for better health worldwide. They operate in various sectors, including pharmaceuticals, functional beverages, and functional foods. One of their notable sports drinks is “Energen”, designed to supply energy needs for endurance exercise. It efficiently converts fat into energy while preserving bursts of power.

    Global sports drink market: A fertile playground for functional drinks

    Energen is designed to provide the energy required for prolonged physical activity

    PepsiCo, Inc.

    PepsiCo, Inc., is the parent company behind several well-known sports drink brands. One prominent sports drink brand of PepsiCo is Gatorade. Gatorade was initially developed in 1965 by researchers at the University of Florida to replenish carbohydrates and electrolytes lost during vigorous sports activities. Since then, it has expanded to over 80 countries and become a global brand. PepsiCo acquired Gatorade in 2000 and remains a popular choice for athletes and active individuals worldwide.

    Global sports drink market: A fertile playground for functional drinks

    Gatorade is trusted by some of the world’s best athletes

    Another well-known brand under PepsiCo, Inc. is Propel. Their drinks focus on fitness and hydration with enhanced water products. Known for its zero-calorie, vitamin-enhanced benefits, this brand is famous in the U.S., particularly among fitness enthusiasts.

    Suntory Holdings Limited

    Suntory Holdings Co., Ltd. is a significant player in the sports drink market, offering well-known brands that cater to the hydration and energy needs of active individuals. Among their well-known brands of sports drinks are Lucozade Energy, a well-liked energy and sports drink, and Lucozade Sport, which is made especially to stay hydrated when exercising.

    Global sports drink market: A fertile playground for functional drinks

    • Lucozade Sports & Lucozade Energy by Suntory

    The Coca-Cola Company

    The Coca-Cola Company is a global beverage conglomerate with a diverse portfolio. While they are well-known for their sparkling soft drink brands like Coca-Cola, Sprite, and Fanta, they also offer a range of water, sports, coffee, and tea brands. Here are some of their notable sports drink offerings:

    • Powerade is a sports drink that replenishes electrolytes and provides hydration during physical activity. Recently, Powerade expanded its product platforms to meet changing consumer needs.
    • BODYARMOR is A sports drink brand that emphasizes natural ingredients and functional hydration.
    • Vitaminwater is a flavoured water infused with vitamins and electrolytes.
    • Although primarily known as a bottled water brand, Dasani also offers enhanced water products with added electrolytes.

    These brands cater to athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and anyone seeking hydration and energy replenishment.

    Global sports drink market: A fertile playground for functional drinks

    Powerade aims to keep athletes hydrated during strenuous workouts and fuel their performance

    Leading trends in the sports drink market

    The sports drink market is growing rapidly. It is heavily driven by consumer demand and the growing focus on health and wellness.

    Natural ingredients

    Consumers are gravitating toward sports drinks that align with wellness and natural trends. In response, companies produce clean-label products like BodyAmor with natural ingredients and coconut water.

    Incorporating antioxidants to preserve health

    Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize harmful molecules called free radicals. Intense exercise generates free radicals, which can impact performance and recovery. Antioxidants help counteract this stress. Moreover, antioxidants shield cells from harm, promoting health in general. That is why adding antioxidants will add great benefits to sports drinks.

    Fun and unique flavour mix

    Sports drinks now include smoothie combo flavours to imitate the healthy juice cleanse trends. This product combines the hydration benefits of sports drinks and the nutritional profile of smoothies and fruit. The drinks help with post-workout recovery and serve as meal replacements, snacks or healthy daily beverage options.

    For example, BodyArmor Lyte focuses on natural ingredients and minimal calories while creating flavors that resemble smoothie blends.

    Global sports drink market trends

    Bodyarmor LYTE Super Drinks fuel your body with essential nutrients

    Zero calories and Zero sugar

    The growing health concerns about diabetes and heart disease are driving up demand for sugar-free and calorie-free sports drinks. Products like Gatorade Zero, Powerade Zero, and BodyArmor provide hydration without added sugar.

    These trends indicate that the sports drink market is expanding beyond athletes to health-conscious consumers. Brands exploiting this trend will likely succeed in the evolving market landscape.

    Conclusion

    The sports drinks market will expand globally, providing a bountiful environment for those willing to adapt and create. With innovations in natural ingredients and multi-functional benefits, the market is significantly expanding its customer base.

    By partnering with Tan Do, manufacturers can leverage our more than 25 years of experience and global distribution network to achieve business goals. Contact us right now to find out how we can assist you in producing superior, industry-leading beverages and standing out in a competitive landscape.

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    Richard
    Hi readers, I'm Richard, F&B marketing executive for Tan Do Beverage - a leading private label manufacturer in the beverage industry. The articles that I write have all been consulted with our professional R&D and Quality Control staff, so that all knowledge shared will be accurate and helpful. Our Blog is designed to provide the best industry insights about general beverage trends, manufacturing knowledge and guides for beverage business operations.

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