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Friday, 27 July, 2001, 20:42 GMT 21:42 UK
Energy drinks take off
Shaun Baker, 'extreme' kayaker
Red Bull targets the youth market with sponsorship of 'extreme' sports
Sales of energy drinks are rocketing in the UK, with the total market now worth 615m.

Who has tried an energy drink?
44% of men
27% of women
92% of 15 to 19-year-olds
A report by Mintel shows that sales of drinks like Red Bull have risen by 366% since 1996 - faster than cola.

The drinks, which often contain high levels of caffeine, taurine and other stimulants, have become popular with clubbers and others who enjoy energetic social lives.

But energy drinks have also been linked with possible health problems.

Banned

Market leader Red Bull is under investigation in Sweden after reports at least three people died after drinking it.


We were the original and there are a lot of people who are trying to copy us, but nobody has successfully achieved that

Red Bull spokesman
The Swedish National Food Administration (NFA) is heading the investigation, and has issued a public warning, telling people not to take Red Bull mixed with alcohol, or after heavy exercise.

The three healthy young people who died are all thought to have drunk Red Bull shortly before their deaths.

The energy drink's manufacturers said there was no proof the deaths were linked to Red Bull.

Also, this week, Malaysia's health minister, Chu Jui Meng, banned Red Bull this week after public concern.

A spokeswoman for Red Bull UK said there was "no evidence that energy drinks in general are in any way harmful".

Longer hours

Consumer goods consultant Simon Howitt said the market for energy drinks had been driven by people working longer hours and having increasingly energetic social lives.

Red Bull
Red Bull: the makers claim it does not damage health
"Consumers are using the functional aspects of energy and stimulant drinks to replace either what the body requires after strenuous activity or sustain it to continue performing at a higher level that would otherwise be the case," he said.

The market is dominated by Red Bull in the stimulant sector and Lucozade in the energy drinks sector, the report found.

Popularity

It quizzed 1,071 people aged 15 and above and found 50% have consumed an energy/stimulant drink in the last six months, amounting to around 3.5 litres per Briton.

But the drinks are more popular with younger people, with 83% of 15 to 19-year-olds having had an energy drink and 92% a stimulant drink.

Mr Howitt said: "It is difficult to see what impact, if any, that the Swedish scare may have on the UK market. "Assuming there are no other scares associated with this market, Mintel forecasts a healthy year-on-year growth over the next five years."

Men were more likely to have had a stimulant drink than women, 44% compared with 27%, but people are still sceptical about their effect.

Sceptical consumers

The report found that one in five adults feel they are a good pick-me-up, but only 5% think they improve mental alertness and 4% think they are good for a hangover.

A spokeswoman for Red Bull UK said: "I think the main thing is that it's actually recognised as a new sector now which didn't exist before 1996, so Red Bull as a brand has helped create a brand new category.

"We were the original and there are a lot of people who are trying to copy us, but nobody has successfully achieved that.

"We still have the market share lead at 86%."

See also:

13 Jul 01 | UK
Red Bull: Raging success
24 Jan 01 | Health
Energy drink claims rejected
25 Jun 01 | Other Sports
Red Bull given all-clear
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