Blends and botanicals: energy innovators add value to core ingredients

Caffeine remains the core ingredient of choice for producers of energizing foods and drinks, present in 93% of launches in the energy drinks category and 47% of sports nutrition products with energizing claims. However, there can be different ingredient approaches in different categories – for example, magnesium and B vitamins are the top choices in energizing supplements, with caffeine present in only 5% of launches – while the blending of energy ingredients is becoming habitual in a bid to deliver optimum results.

Consumer research shows that vitamins are actually the favored ingredient choice among energy drink consumers, ahead of caffeine and minerals, so it is no surprise that B vitamins are also found in around three-quarters of new energy drink recipes. Taurine and guarana are also ranked among the top ingredient choices in this category. Meanwhile, in sports nutrition, amino acids are also prominent, particularly in pre-workout powders designed to give the energy boost required prior to exercise, as well as in powders aimed at gamers. Sugars remain popular in sports drinks and energy gels but are now used less and less often in other areas as formulators look to ingredients with a more positive health profile.

The blending of energizers is particularly evident in core categories. In mainstream energy drinks, for example, many of the leading brands combine caffeine, taurine and B vitamins in the same drink, as seen in the Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar ranges. A new Khaotic version of Monster Juiced has been launched in various markets, with the energy formulation using a blend of taurine, ginseng, caffeine, B vitamins and l-carnitine. Similarly, sports powders often combine amino acids with caffeine and/or vitamins. For example, in Finland, Scream Performance has launched Gamer powders designed to enhance both energy and focus, using a blend of taurine, caffeine, l-tyrosine, l-carnitine and B vitamins as active ingredients.

The supplements category often acts as a pioneer for certain ingredients, and it appears to be doing just that in terms of botanical energizers. Ashwagandha has been a big winner in the energy arena in recent years, now present in 8% of all new supplements with energizing claims, while astragalus has made its way into 2% of new products. In these instances, the emphasis is very much on reduction of stress as a way to reduce fatigue. Adaptogenic mushrooms are also featuring more and more widely in energizing supplements and there are growing signs of interest from packaged food and drink. For example, the Odyssey range of energy drinks in the US, including new Sparkling Mushroom Elixirs, use mushroom extracts (alongside caffeine) for a dual boost of energy and mental focus.

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Monster Juiced Khaotic Energy Drink (United Kingdom, May 2022); Scream Performance Gamer Powder with Raspberry Flavor (Finland, Aug 2022); Odyssey Sparkling Mushroom Elixir with Blackberry Lemon Twist Flavor (United States, Mar 2022); Rockstar Unplugged with Blueberry Flavor (United States, Feb 2022)

Botanicals are certainly making more of a mark in energy drinks as consumers seek a boost without the jitters or post-energy crash associated with caffeine. Guarana is the #1 botanical ingredient in energy drinks, but choices are diversifying all the time and botanical development is also contributing to the rise of energy+. For example, the Rockstar range has seen the addition of an Unplugged collection this year, with each drink containing hemp seed oil alongside caffeine and B vitamins. This is designed to give less of a pure energy burst and more of an energizing good mood vibe. With these kinds of launches and the adaptogenic products that target stress, it seems that energizing is evolving and suppliers are taking an ever more holistic approach to the issue and to their ingredient choices.

‘Caffeine & Other Energizing Ingredients” is a new Ingredients Insider report from Innova Market Insights. Through consumer research and analysis of new product activity, it reviews trends in energizing food, beverages and supplements and the key ingredients used to achieve this functionality.

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