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Latest Trends in the Vitamin Industry


The market for sports and fitness nutrition worldwide is estimated to hit almost $45 billion by 2015. The growth of this market will come from a number of factors including the increasing focus on health and wellness, rising levels of income, an increasing willingness of consumers to spend and the embracing of western-styled food in Asian markets. The US and Japan are the biggest market in this industry.

The recent recession, which began in 2007, hit the sport and fitness nutrition market, with buying patters showing signs that the market was in trouble. As employment levels fell, household income also fell, which caused spending to dry up in the sports and fitness nutrition market. The largest segment in this market, the Sports and Energy Drinks sector, has seen a slowdown in the last few years, as their main consumer, the blue-collar and low-income groups, felt the pinch of the recession. In the supplements sector, premium luxury brands saw their sales dry up, while niche categories such as mood enhancers saw their sales rise.

Emerging markets such as China, India and Latin America will see the majority of future consumption growth in the sports and fitness nutrition market worldwide, with growing middle class consumers wanting to spend more on wellness and health than ever before. In Latin America, the supplements market is forecast to massively increase at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of more than 7.0% until 2015.

Global supplement sales are expected to hit a rough patch in the next few years, as regulatory changes worldwide mean that companies in the supplements market will potentially have to change they way they operate. Companies in Europe, Asia, Latin and North America and Russia are waiting for changes that may mean a crackdown on what ingredients are allowed in supplements, and how they market the health benefits of these products. In recent years a number of companies have been guilty of mixing steroids or FDA-approved drugs into supplements, turning them from dietary supplements to illegal drugs. Over the next few years regulatory bodies will have a major role in the market, and dictate strict policies over sports nutrition
Author: Alex De Angelis, Analyst

Coconut Oil as a nutritional source and added health benefits

To make the most of this tropical fruit’s flavor and nutrition, an array of coconut products are coming to market—Sales of items containing items from water to nutraceuticals have gained in popularity and sales.

Nutrition notes

A number of recent clinical studies in both rats and humans have demonstrated that medium-chain triglycerides, specifically coconut oil, can lower lipid levels, aid in fat loss, stabilize blood sugar and increase metabolism. Coconut oil is a rich source of medium-chain triglycerides, which are easily used as energy but are difficult for the body to store as fat. This is based on the fact that they don’t require intestinal digestion with pancreatic enzymes and do not transport in the body bound to lipoproteins via the lymphatic system, meaning they can directly be used by gut and liver cells for energy. 

In addition,the health benefits of coconut includes oleic acid, a desirable omega-9 fatty acid that is also found in olive oil and that does not increase cardiovascular risks. Coconut oil is also a source of potassium, magnesium and calcium, with little sodium and no cholesterol.

Coconut oil also contains both caprylic and lauric acids, which work as natural antifungals, discouraging yeast overgrowth in the body, rebalancing gut organisms and promoting intestinal health.

Energy Drinks Still Making a Splash

What’s propelling sales in the booming energy beverage market?

It’s no secret energy drinks have taken the market by storm. A stroll down any beverage aisle in a grocery or convenience store reveals a staggering variety of drinks formulated specifically to increase energy levels. Gone are the days of limited choice between coffee and plutonium-green soda pop stuffed with sugar. Now consumers can choose among mainstream formulations, super-caffeinated beverages, drinks featuring natural ingredients such as yerba mate, ginseng and ginkgo, and even enhanced fruit juices with “superfruits” like mangosteen and açaí.

Consumers want it all, and manufacturers are only too happy to give it to them. “Our products are at a happy crossroads of three drink trends: organic, functional and energy,” said David Karr, co-founder of Guayaki Yerba Mate.

Sales of organic products, including beverages, continue to increase. The Organic Trade Association (OTA) recently reported consumer sales of organic foods and beverages in the United States neared $17 billion in 2006. And energy drinks appear to be on the cutting edge of melding organic offerings with functional power. But with so many offerings, what can retailers do to differentiate their offerings on the shelves?

Pursuing a Packed Market

Sales of energy drinks in the United States were $3.5 billion in 2005, according to Beverage Digest—hefty sales in a category born as recently as the late ‘90s with the introduction of Red Bull. Created by an Austrian who adapted the drink from a Thai beverage called Krating Daeng, Red Bull set the template for the mainstream energy drink category, using ingredients such as taurine, B vitamins, large doses of caffeine and herbal stimulants such as guarana.

Until recently, energy beverage competitors followed closely on these coattails. However, a recent study, reported in the Harvard Business Review on marketing strategies, showed when examining the most successful beverage marketing strategies, one common theme stood out: indirect assault. Smart newcomers don’t duplicate existing business models, compete for crowded distribution channels or go after mainstream customers right away. Instead, they attack the enemy at its weakest points, gain competitive advantage and later, if doing so meets their objectives, go after competitors’ strongholds.

Convenience, packaging and ingredients are three key factors taken into consideration during product formulation to best position an energy beverage for success. Obviously, in today’s busy society, convenience is often top-of-mind. “The on-the-go aspect of consumerism is exploding in North America,” Karr said. “People are super busy and need nutrition and refreshment fast and in a very convenient format.”

Rachel Kenney, public relations and education manager, Naked Juice, agreed, noting: “The energy drink market continues to expand because all consumers need energy to stay on their feet. However, hectic lifestyles keep them reaching for convenient stimulants that are both unhealthy and unnatural.” Convenience includes how a product is presented/ merchandised in the store. Ideally, such beverages should be positioned in such a way as to catch the attention of wandering shoppers. Coldbox displays, refrigerators and barrel coolers have been used successfully to market energy drinks, as many consumers want to drink the product as they shop. Finally, counter space at the checkout is prime real estate in any store, but retailers interested in maximizing energy beverage sales should take advantage of the “grab and go” effect of impulse shopping.

Convenience was listed by several companies as being a prime indicator of beverage success, but the drink’s actual container size was also mentioned. “Convenience and packaging play a very important role in initially luring the consumer into picking up a new functional beverage and deciding if it is something they want to carry out of the store in the first place,” said Eric Schnell of Steaz. “Going with the new SLEEK 12-oz. aluminum can provide a major point of packaging difference from the more mainstream energy drinks that have traditionally been packaged in 8-oz. or 16-oz. cans.”

Content Questions

Finally, there is the content question. “Ingredients perceived as better for you round out the top three drivers to launching a new drink in the functional market today,” Schnell said. “Consumers are smarter than ever before. They read labels and follow the latest health and fashion trends. When Oprah touts ingredients like Sambazon’s açaí fruit as being a “ superfruit,” word gets out in the media, and consumers begin looking for functional products that contain these types of exotic, antioxidant packed ingredients. Thus, science-backed formulas that provide fashionable ingredients with real function are key to long term success.”

New ingredients often make a big splash then fade away after a year or two. But yerba mate— a species found exclusively in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil—has been in the market for more than a decade yet shows no signs of becoming a has-been. “We took a traditional hot tea beverage that is a cultural icon in South America and created an ‘Amer icanized,’ ready-to-drink (RTD) bottled version that captures the unique flavor and energy of yerba mate in a format that Americans prefer,” Karr said. “Our sales have grown dramatically since introducing the line and after just one year, it is now our leading yerba mate product.”

Karr noted many studies suggest the complex blend of stimulants and nutrients found in yerba mate act as a catalyst to enhance the activity of other botanical ingredients and can also aid with nutrient bioavailability. And while Guyaki ’s beverages do contain added caffeine, its effects are somewhat mitigated by mate’s natural content of the obromine, theophylline and panthothenic acid, which support the nervous system. “Yerba mate is also a rich source of magnesium, which has been proven to ease anxiety,” Karr added. There is one final factor that determines the success of an energy beverage, and it’s no surprise it’s the most difficult to refine. “Taste is always number one,” Schnell stated. Without a great taste, the best convenience, packaging and ingredients won’ t make an impact in the competitive world of energy drinks.

Gender, Age Segmentation Increases in Dietary Supplements

Although the dietary supplements market has shown some global decline in new product development in recent years, one area of increased development is in products designed for specific life stages or specific genders. While this concept of age and gender segmentation has its ups and downs in food and beverage products, it seems to be gaining ground in the dietary supplement area.

Products aimed at women have been steadily increasing over the past year or two, with a strong bias toward dietary supplements aimed at older females, often designed to help with symptoms related to menopause. Menopause lines claim to deal with complaints such as hot flashes, memory loss and night sweats, with some also purporting to help with osteoporosis and heart disease. A number of these products incorporate more natural ingredients such as green tea, appealing to the growing number of consumers who believe in more natural remedies to ailments.

Introductions of dietary supplements for pregnant women and new mothers are also on the rise globally. Not surprisingly, product activity for these products is strongest in regions with larger populations of women of child-bearing age. Most of these products are designed to provide a nutritional boost for pregnant women. Other introductions have included a line to help women slim down and tone up after giving birth, along with a product to help maintain iron levels.

In an image-and beauty-conscious world, where cosmetic surgery is becoming more commonplace and affordable, products that claim to beautify or improve skin conditions comprise a welcome and relatively active sub-category. Women are the primary target audience, although some of these products are more universal in their marketing. Numerous lines are formulated with collagen to boost skin elasticity, and antioxidants for anti-aging properties.

The children’s segment remains important for manufacturers attempting to develop a younger consumer base. However, it has seen strong competition in recent years from the growing children’s functional food sector. Furthermore, parents are increasingly encouraged to rely on a healthy balanced diet to provide their children with vitamins and minerals, rather than having to remember to supplement their child’s diet with tablets, drops or chews.

Despite this competition, the children’s market has seen some interesting new products of late. Popular functional ingredients, such as omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs), have seen notable growth in this segment. This is not surprising, as omega-3s are strongly marketed towards helping with brain development and concentration—a key area of interest for parents of young children. Other popular functional ingredients that have transferred well include lactobacillus and bifidobacteria for healthy digestion, and green foods such as chlorella. More traditional multivitamins and calcium supplements, often with vitamin D3 to help with calcium absorption, continue to be strong, as they encourage general body development, such as bolstering bone density and growth.

Although still a relatively small segment, products aimed at men have been developing in the last year. These deal with an array of issues, ranging from fashionable EFA supplements for brain and heart benefits; anti-hair loss lines; tanning products; anti-stress options; and male-specific multivitamins. The market has a great deal of growth potential, especially for products geared at more affluent and older men, as well as adolescent boys.

Products benefiting the heart, prostate and sperm health could be particularly helpful, as heart disease, prostate problems and low sperm count are modern day diseases affecting men. Skin care supplements for adolescent boys prone to acne also have shown potential.

Moving forward, expect to see expansion in the offerings of dietary supplements of all kinds that are more narrowly focused, especially to specific consumer groups.



Acai Berry >

Goji Berry >

Mangosteen >

Fruit juices are making splash in America in capsules and drink form

Energy drinks stormed the U.S. beverage market last year, outperforming all other categories. With energy drink sales soaring 52.1 percent higher than last year, according to market researcher Information Resources Inc. (IRI), niche-marketed energy brands targeting specific consumer interests or demographics continue to expand.

Since their emergence in the United States 10 years ago, the energy drinks category has enjoyed tremendous success, displaying a staggering 516 percent sales growth between 2001–2006, according to market research firm Mintel. In fact, energy drinks, led by the Red Bull and Monster brands, grew by more than 49 percent in 2006. With growing consumer demand and increased profit margins, it's projected to exceed $10 billion by 2010.

"Energy drinks are an interesting category because there are a ton of new product launches," explained Tom Vierhile, director of Productscan Online. "The category has a very low barrier to entry so we're seeing a lot of product innovation, a lot of smaller companies have chosen to attack the energy drink market as opposed to coming out with a soft drink to compete against PepsiCo and Coca-Cola. It's a category with a melting pot of different influences."

In 2006 in the U.S. alone, Productscan Online reported 321 new sports or energy drinks, compared to only 149 introductions in 2003. "The long-term trend is definitely up," Vierhile said.

Breaking it Down
Energy drinks tend to break down into a few distinct categories that target specific consumer interests or demographics. According Vierhile, there are celebrity-oriented energy drinks that appeal to the younger generation. "Here it's all about creativity and pushing the boundaries. There's a bit of a hip-hop, urban element that's provocative."

Then there are the energy drinks that are more functional and sports-oriented; and finally, there are the all-natural and organic energy drinks that appeal to those seeking health and wellness. It's this last category that most experts believe will be the single-biggest trend impacting sales in the beverage industry.

According to Vierhile, as more people seek out energy drinks for a myriad of reasons — a quick energy fix, improved mental clarity, health and wellness — the choices are becoming more and more broad.

Though the segment has been dominated by carbonated options that contain added sugar and synthetic ingredients such as taurine, only recently have healthier energy drink versions come to market.

"There's more of a focus on lower calorie products," explained Vierhile. "That's definitely a trend to watch. Part of the reason energy drinks give that buzz is they are loaded with sugar. We're definitely seeing more products that are getting the sugar content under control a bit."

The Energy Drink Goes Hybrid
Heeding the consumer call for healthier products, beverage manufacturers have introduced a slew of new juice-based energy drink hybrids with good-for-you ingredients like berries such as pomegranate, acai, goji and noni. There's also a sub-category of energy drinks flooding the market based on tea, especially green and white tea, herbs like yerba mate, and vitamin and dietary supplements — which are all being marketed for their antioxidant content and associated health benefits.

"Many companies are introducing combo-type products which combine some of the ingredients of the traditional type Red Bull energy drinks, but with a healthful twist," said Vierhile.

Anheuser-Busch, for example, recently introduced its 180 Red with Goji. The Goji berry, a small red fruit from Tibet, is said to contain high antioxidant levels and is believed to increase energy, according to the company. Targeting active adults who want an extra boost, 180 Red with Goji contains Goji berry juice, acerola juice, guarana for natural caffeine, vitamins B-6, B-12 and C, and natural lychee flavor. There's also a 180 Blue with Acai, a purple berry from Brazil. Considered another superfruit, this purple berry from Brazil is said to promote greater energy, stamina and better mental focus. In addition to juice from the Acai berry, 180 Blue contains guarana, red grape and blueberry juices, in addition to vitamins B-6 and B-12.

A rather interesting new product launch is 1in3 Trinity Energy Drink fused with the Fruit of the Spirit. It's marketed as a liquid companion to an active Christian lifestyle, produced from a special blend of grapes and plants that once originated from the Holy Land. The lightly carbonated beverage is said to contain antioxidant-rich pomegranate and grapes, and to be enhanced with vitamins C and B. Apparently, the target market is the healthy and the faithful.

To meet the needs of consumers seeking an energy drink with the nutrition of real juice, PepsiCo's SoBe brand developed SoBe Essential Energy, a line of juice-based energy drinks made with ginseng, guarana, real fruit juice and buzzworthy yerba mate. The drink, available in two flavors — orange and berry pomegranate — also contains vitamins B-6, B-12, C and zinc. Another introduction from PepsiCo, Fuelosophy High Protein Energy Drink, wants customers to "Rethink your energy source." The beverage is said to be a longer energy source that is high in protein, B vitamins and complex carbs. On-trend flavors include Pomegranate Berry, Pineapple Mango and Citrus Blend.

A Healthier Buzz
Capitalizing on the green and white tea health trend, beverage manufacturers —even tea manufacturers — have introduced a slew of energy drinks containing the much-hyped, antioxidant-rich ingredient. Many of these will appeal to consumers looking for an alternative to the high sugar, artificial sweeteners, and artificial flavors found in a majority of energy drinks.

Tea manufacturer Tempest Tea has introduced Green U, a sparkling green tea beverage that is said to give a natural boost with the power of green tea extract. The folks over at Inko's White Tea developed Inko's White Tea Energy, a 100 percent all-natural energy drink with 184 mg of jitter-free tea caffeine, and according to the company, a lightly sweetened, sophisticated blend of black and white teas with a hint of lemon and ginger. The Healthy Beverage Company, makers of the all-natural and certified USDA Organic Steaz Green Tea Soda brand, released a USDA Organic and Fair Trade Certified energy drink, Steaz Energy. Ingredients include Ceylon green tea, Guayaki yerba mate, Sambazon acai and guarana.

Yerba mate — a South American herbal beverage that has been praised for centuries for its health benefits which include eight to 11 times the antioxidant levels of green tea and vitamins galore — is also popping up more and more as a better-for-you alternative to energy drinks. It reportedly imparts the same caffeine boost of a morning cup of coffee minus the jitters, and the highs and lows between cups.

Sol Maté Beverage Company launched Sol Maté as the world's first certified organic sparkling maté energy beverage. The all-natural drink contains naturally occurring caffeine plus theobromine, a known mood elevator also found in chocolate. The company says the two compounds combine to provide a sustainable, longer lasting lift. Naturally high in antioxidants, a bottle of Sol Maté is comparable to a cup of green tea or a 1/2 cup of wild blueberries.

Guayaki Yerba Mate offers new Organic Yerba Mate Fusions which combine rainforest mate with potent traditional herbs from around the world such as Gingko Biloba and Siberian Ginseng, Tulsi from India, Himalayan Crystal Salt, Damiana from Central America, and Catuaba from Brazil.

Appealing more to the purists, Naked Juice recently launched a line of super-premium energy drinks, claiming to be the first all-natural, 100 percent juice smoothies featuring no added sugar, preservatives, artificial flavor or colors. According to the company, Naked Juice Strawberry Kiwi Kick and Naked Juice Orange Mango Motion provide a natural energy boost (43 mg per serving) from green tea extract and guarana, a berry grown in Venezuela and Brazil that is touted as a natural source of caffeine.

Stonyfield Farm Organic has introduced an Organic Natural Energy Drink called Shift, under the Stonyfield Farm brand name. The refrigerated beverage, promoted as the only all-natural and certified organic energy drink that provides a sustainable energy source for active teens and young adults, comes in Berry Boost, Power Punch and Strawberry Banana flavors. Some of the ingredients include acai, ginseng and vitamins C, D, B-3 and B-6.

"The astronomical growth of the energy drink category is partly because these beverages are more successfully tapping into the spirit of the age, which is characterized by a greater emphasis on functional, healthy products," said Michael Bellas, chairman and CEO, Beverage Marketing Corporation. "Beverages offering functional benefits are growing two to three times faster than conventional refreshment beverages. As consumers increase their per capita consumption of beverages in these newer segments, they are putting pressure on carbonated soft drinks and juice as well as tap water."

Blurring the Lines
According to Vierhile, there seems to be a blurring of the lines in the energy drink category. "Take a look at bottled water, for example. There are a lot of bottled waters coming out with energy drink properties that claim to revive and energize. That might usurp some of the momentum energy drinks have had," he said.

Of course, soda manufacturers like Pepsi and Coke have gotten in on the action too, launching "functional" no-calorie soft drinks beefed up with vitamins and minerals and positioned as "better-for-you" choices. To date, the functional "soda" category has been taken up by energy drinks often marketed as lifestyle accessories for young people. As such, this represents a new functional direction in the mass market that cuts across generations and sexes.

In early December, the FDA heard views on how the federal authority should tailor regulations for the functional food and drink category, which has grown in importance, and is regarded by some to occupy a grey area between conventional foods and dietary supplements.

An Over-Caffeinated Generation?
Slick packaging, clever marketing and promises of a better buzz have certainly made energy drinks the jolt of this generation. Last year alone, teenagers and young adults — the primary consumers of energy drinks — spent almost $3.2 billion on heavily caffeinated drinks with racy names like Daredevil, Monster, Amp, Rockstar, Powershot and Full Throttle.

According to a new report from Mintel entitled Energy Drinks in the U.S., the incidence of teens' energy drink consumption has increased significantly between 2001–2006. In 2002, one in five teens was likely to drink energy drinks, compared to one in three in 2006. In addition, one in three teens is likely to use energy drinks compared to one in 10 adults. This is likely because energy drinks help them augment a rebellious image — legally.

According to Vierhile, younger consumers are gravitating toward energy drinks because they are perceived as cool, maybe a bit on the forbidden side. "Adults want to keep their kids away from energy drinks because they are afraid kids are going to get all hopped up on caffeine from them," he explained. "There's a danger element that is attractive to teens."

One of the more controversial products to hit the market recently, and likely to lure the younger consumer, was a product called Cocaine Energy Drink — The Legal Alternative. The 8.4-fluid-ounce energy booster from Redux Beverages has no actual cocaine in it, but does pack a whopping 280 milligrams of caffeine. The beverage is marketed to give a person a "high" coupled with a tingly euphoric feeling within five minutes of drinking it. That initial boost is followed 15 minutes later by an energy buzz that will last five to six hours, according to the company.

This type of beverage, and many others like it (take, for example, the new Jimi Hendrix Liquid Experience Energy Drink from Beverage Concepts which "doesn't promise to give you the juice to play guitar like Jimi Hendrix, but it does hope to give you a Liquid experience"), points at another trend in the energy drink category — the use of drug imagery as well as those risqué brand names aimed to garner notoriety in the media.

"Cocaine" attracted criticism from industry groups. For instance, Utah-based United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA) called on the federal government to take action to assure what it calls "illicit street drug sound-alike products" are not marketed as dietary supplements.

So while more and more new energy drinks are being made with juices, teas and dietary supplements, their primary attraction is caffeine. But since there is a lack of research into the long-term effects of large amounts of caffeine on adolescents and young adults, the jury is still out on this one.

More Room for Growth?
Mintel reports that future growth may not repeat the current sales momentum as energy drinks come under review for their unfavorable health effects and unregulated labeling practices. Nevertheless, growth is likely to come from the continued health and wellness trend.

"Health, natural and organic is a niche we're definitely going to see more products enter into," said Vierhile. "Manufacturers are coming out with ingredients that are high in antioxidants like berries and even chocolate. Actually, chocolate is wide open. I won't be surprised if someone comes out with a dark chocolate energy drink.



Consumers and Nutraceuticals: Online Buying Trends

The nutraceuticals industry has done better than many healthcare fields on the Internet. While online prescription services have been plagued with legal issues, the less stringent regulations covering nutraceuticals has allowed the industry to thrive. Consumers are purchasing a wide range of nutraceuticals, spending several billion dollars on vitamins supplements, and functional foods. Vitamins, supplements, and other nutraceuticals comprise one of the fastest growing industries on the Internet.

With so much money changing hands, competition for pieces of the nutraceutical pie is increasing steadily. Both newcomers and veterans of the nutraceutical industry need to know what trends are driving the online purchase of vitamins and supplements, and how recent government legislation is affecting the industry.

Beauty and the Nutraceutical Market
Beauty is one of the driving forces behind the nutraceutical industry. Forty-three percent of all online nutraceuticals purchases are intended to increase beauty or slow aging. It would be reasonable to assume that the aging baby boomer population is driving the demand for beauty-centered nutraceuticals. It's reasonable, but it's not exactly true.

The demand for beauty related nutraceuticals is not confined to a single age group. While baby boomers have long been considered the primary market for beauty nutraceuticals, younger generations are purchasing equal amounts of nutraceutical beauty products. Nutraceutical consumers are concerned with self-care and preventative healthcare, and younger generations are taking advantage of nutraceutical products now with an eye on the future.

Functional Foods: Increasing the Scope of Nutraceuticals
The line between the vitamin/supplement market and that of functional foods is a blurry one, and many nutraceuticals can be considered both. An increased consumer interest in functional foods has seen a boom in the demand for both grocery stocked and online functional foods, which has in turn led to many new products hitting the market.

Functional foods include any beverage or food product enhanced with vitamins, enzymes, herbs, or other nutraceutical supplements. In the US, functional foods are allowed to make the same claims as other nutraceuticals. They can list up to seventeen possible health benefits, but cannot claim to cure or treat specific conditions.

Functional food's popularity has spurred a legal debate. Do such products constitute food products, or should they be considered drugs? At present, functional foods can make possible health benefit claims, so long as the product is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) under the terms set out by the US Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission. They are not, however, considered drug products under FDA guidelines.

There exists a large potential for growth in the functional food market for nutraceutical companies. Functional foods that can claim anti-aging and beauty benefits have the potential to be extremely popular, as of course, do any functional foods that promote weight loss or weight control.




How do you convince teens to buy your highly caffeinated, $3-a-can soft drink, when hundreds of other brands are jockeying for shelf space? Skip normal TV ads, for starters. In a field continually littered with new entries, each trying to out-extreme the other, small energy-drink companies are pursuing increasingly audacious marketing tactics.

Without a dominating presence by either Coca-Cola or Pepsi , makers of so-called energy drinks -- lightly carbonated beverages often loaded with caffeine and herbal extracts -- are all hoping they can become the next major brand. So far, only one leader has emerged: Austria-based Red Bull, a private company with roughly 60% market share and at least $150 million in annual revenue, according to Information Resources, a Chicago-based retail research firm.

MOVING TARGET. Inspired by the success of Red Bull, which began as a startup itself 18 years ago, more than 1,000 smaller players have entered the market, according to BevNET, a Boston-based beverage-industry trade Web site that reviews new products.

All the newcomers are trying to steal the spotlight, staging publicity stunts that are as jaw-dropping as they are risky, financially and otherwise. For many, clever marketing remains as much -- more, in some cases -- of a focus as the nuts and bolts of actually manufacturing and distributing the product.

The target market for energy drinks is mostly male teenagers and twentysomethings, a notoriously fickle bunch. So unlike the cola market, where Coke and Pepsi push their offerings to all soda-drinkers, most of the smaller power-drink players have decided that their best hope of gaining traction is by appealing to very specialized market segments.

"Right now there's an ability to get a toehold more quickly if you can build loyalty with a niche of the market," says Kelly O'Keefe, CEO of brand-consulting firm Emergence, based in Atlanta. "The margins are high enough that you can make money on a small run of the product."

"As the big boys [move] into this market," says O'Keefe, "you'll see them acquire some of the strong brands. It's rare that you're going to see an independent rise without getting into bed with one of these companies." If teenagers are adequately wowed by the stunts, maybe industry executives will be too.

For information on private labeling Liquid Energy Drinks contact NHS LABS (888-546-8694) and visit the liquid shot Energy products page:


Higher intake of fish and vitamin D levels linked to lower risk of age-related macular disease

2007-05-15 - JAMA/Archives journals

Individuals who have higher dietary intake of foods with omega-3 fatty acids and higher fish consumption have a reduced risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration, while those with higher serum levels of vitamin D may have a reduced risk of the early stages of the disease, according to two reports in the May issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) occurs when the macula, the area at the back of the retina that produces the sharpest vision, deteriorates over time. It is the most common cause of blindness among older adults in the United States, affecting more than 7 million individuals older than 40 years, according to background information in the articles. The prevalence of AMD is likely to increase as the population ages. There is currently no known way to prevent the condition, but research has begun to identify potentially modifiable risk factors and nutrient-based treatments.

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group assessed 4,519 individuals who were age 60 to 80 when they enrolled in 1992 through 1998. At that time, photographs were taken of their retinas to determine if they had AMD, and if so, to which of four stages the condition had progressed. The participants also completed a food frequency questionnaire that measured how often they consumed foods rich in certain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids commonly found in tuna, salmon and other fish.

A total of 1,115 participants did not have any symptoms of AMD at the beginning of the study, and were compared with those who did, including 658 individuals with neovascular (severe) AMD. "Dietary total omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid intake was inversely associated with neovascular AMD, as was docosahexaenoic acid," or DHA, a fatty acid that previous evidence suggests affects the retina, the authors write. "Higher fish consumption, both total and broiled/baked, was also inversely associated with neovascular AMD." Eating more than two medium (4-ounce) servings of fish per week or more than one medium serving of broiled or baked fish was associated with the lowest risk for advanced AMD.

Omega-3 fatty acids may influence processes involved in the development of blood vessel– and nerve-related diseases of the retina, the authors write. For instance, DHA may protect the retina by influencing which genes turn on and off, while fatty acids overall may eventually form compounds that promote cell survival and proper blood vessel function, reduce inflammation and maintain energy balance.

"These results and those from other observational analytic investigations suggest that modifying diet to include more foods rich in omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids could result in a reduction in the risk of having neovascular AMD," the authors conclude. Clinical trials would provide further information about whether diet changes or supplements could prevent the development of advanced AMD.

In a related study, Niyati Parekh, Ph.D., R.D., of the University of the Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Brunswick, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and colleagues analyzed data from 7,752 individuals (including 11 percent with AMD) who were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a large study designed to represent the entire U.S. population. Participants were enrolled in the study between 1988 and 1994. They had physical examinations that included blood and urine samples, photographs of the retinas, and interviews and questionnaires regarding sociodemographics, lifestyle habits and food intake.

"Levels of serum vitamin D were inversely associated with early AMD but not advanced AMD," the authors write. When participants were split into five groups based on level of vitamin D in the blood, those in the highest group had a 40 percent lower risk of early AMD than those in the lowest group. "Milk intake was inversely associated with early AMD. Fish intake was inversely associated with advanced AMD."

Vitamin D may reduce the risk of AMD by reducing inflammation or by preventing the growth of new blood vessels in the retina, which contributes to some forms of AMD, the authors speculate. "This study provides evidence that vitamin D may protect against AMD," the authors conclude. "However, at this time there is insufficient epidemiologic evidence of the relationship between vitamin D level and AMD to make recommendations regarding optimum serum vitamin D levels or milk and fish intake to protect against AMD or its progression. The results of the present research warrant further investigation for confirmation of the vitamin D-AMD association in other population studies."


Health And Cost Benefits For Older Americans Taking Dietary Supplements

By the year 2030, more than 70 million Americans will be between 65 and 75 years old. Two recent studies now show that the right health maintenance behavior among the elderly could help avoid or delay a loss of independence or major medical problem.

The typical American diet does not always provide a sufficient level of nutrients. The studies, conducted by The Lewin Group, whose reports are often cited as the gold standard among government policy makers, indicate that with the use of certain dietary supplements, senior citizens can empower themselves while possibly reducing health care costs. With the cost of health care for Americans over age 65 estimated to increase to nearly $16 trillion per year by the year 2030, billions of dollars in potential savings could be realized.

Calcium Supplements:

One study found daily intake of 1,200 milligrams of calcium with vitamin D could significantly reduce the occurrence of hip fractures among those over age 65. In fact, the study estimated that over a five-year period of time, more than 734,000 hip fractures could be avoided and more than $13.9 billion in health care costs could be saved by providing seniors with the necessary calcium and vitamin D supplements. Behind that savings is the compelling fact that 734,000 people could potentially be prevented from suffering a hip fracture.

Heart Supplements:

Another study found that daily intake of approximately 1,800 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids could help reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) among the over-age-65 population. Approximately 384,303 hospitalizations and $3.1 billion in costs could be avoided across a five-year period.

Vision Supplements:

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which gradually destroys sharp, central vision, is another major problem for seniors. The study found that daily intake of 6-10 milligrams of lutein with zeaxanthin could result in cost savings of $2.5 billion with more than 100,000 individuals able to maintain a level of independence over a five-year period.

An estimated 187 million American adults take dietary supplements. A majority of users recently polled cite the most prevalent reason for taking supplements is to improve their overall health and well-being. Experts do caution, however, that seniors ought to consult their physician when embarking on a supplement program, especially if they are taking medications.

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