Energy Drinks Dominate the Functional Beverage Market in the U.S.

April 30, 2010


Mindy Weinstein

Energy Drinks Dominate the Functional Beverage Market in the U.S.

CHICAGO – Since being introduced in the United States in 1997, the energy drink market is the fastest growing segment in the beverage industry, and it has grown into a multibillion-dollar business. A new article in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety looks at the rapid growth of the U.S. energy drink market and how energy drinks are marketed to target demographics, such as young adults. The article also reviews the active ingredients in energy drinks, potential benefits, safety, and regulations.

Energy drinks refer to beverages that contain caffeine in combination with other presumed energy-enhancing ingredients such as taurine, herbal extracts, and B vitamins. They fall into the functional beverages category, which includes sports and nutraceutical drinks. In the United States, energy drinks hold 62 percent of the functional beverages market, and their market share continues to grow. The majority of energy drinks are targeted at teenagers and 18- to 34-year-old adults due to their on-the-go lifestyle and receptiveness to product marketing.

There are conflicting results concerning the positive effects of energy drinks on physiological and cognitive performance. Studies show consumption of particular energy drinks as beneficial in improving aerobic endurance and anaerobic performance. However, several studies have looked at the association between energy drink consumption and problematic behavior. A recent study found a positive correlation between increased energy drink consumption and increased risk-taking behavior.

“New developments geared toward increasing the health functionality of energy drinks will gain market acceptance due to an increasingly health-driven society,” said E. Gonzalez de Mejia of the University of Illinois and lead author of the review paper. However, research on the potential benefits of these products needs to continue.

The paper also notes that in the United States, energy drink companies have no limitations on the caffeine content of their beverages because, unlike cola beverages, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has placed no restrictions on the amounts of caffeine in energy drinks. To ensure consumer safety, the authors advocate warning labels on energy drinks that contain elevated levels of active ingredients, especially caffeine.
For interviews on this review, the media can contact Dr. de Mejia at  This review was published in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety.

To read the research paper, visit: