Natural and sugar reduced energy drinks – A booming market

The global energy drink market has grown by 9% each year since 2015, making it the world’s fastest-growing beverage segment.1 While energy drinks used to be predominantly popular among consumers between the ages of 15 and 18, other target groups frequently did not enjoy the “artificial, fruity” original flavour of these beverages. However, a changing lifestyle and growing consumer demand for beverages with functional added value have driven the energy drink market forward across all age groups over the past few years. Consumers are looking for an energy kick to give them the strength to deal with ever more stressful daily lives. 

However, energy drinks are often criticised for their high sugar and caffeine content. As a result, more natural and reduced sugar alternatives are needed to support consumers’ healthier, more sustainable lifestyles, while also providing new and innovative flavours. As a global producer and marketer of natural ingredients, ingredient systems and integrated solutions, Döhler is familiar with the trends and requirements of the various markets. This expertise enables Döhler to provide its customers with new product solutions and inspiring ideas for innovative energy drinks.

The next generation of successful energy drinks
Energy drinks are one of the most exciting and dynamic beverage categories thanks to innovative concepts, exciting flavours and diverse positioning options. Extremely dynamic development in the energy drink sector has seen these beverages being combined with other categories, such as tea, coffee or juice. These combinations link the energising properties of energy drinks with the flavours and positive properties of other categories. Naturalness, sugar reduction and functional added value are also becoming increasingly important.

More natural energy drinks are driving the market forward
Around 15% of new energy drinks launched on the market carry the claim of “natural”,2 with this share increasing by 17% between 2018 and 2019.3 In light of the ongoing trend towards more naturalness and sustainability, Döhler has developed product solutions for innovative energy drinks based on high-quality, natural and certified organic ingredients. They use natural flavours, natural colours, juice content, botanical extracts or natural caffeine to meet consumer demands for more natural products, added functionality and authentic taste.

Caffeine from natural sources, such as guarana extract, tea extract or green coffee bean extract, is ideal for this. Green and black tea naturally contain caffeine (theine), making them the perfect base for popular energy drinks with a natural image and an excellent taste sensation. Döhler has developed numerous Tea Energy Drinks that have enormous growth potential and are the optimal solution to the growing demand for more natural alternatives. The product solutions offer a variety based on black, green or mate tea, fortified with botanical extracts (guarana, ginseng or ginkgo), vitamins and a high caffeine content. Combinations with high-quality fruit juices and natural flavours also provide the energy drinks with natural characteristics and result in the creation of premium concepts in which the usual ingredients of taurine, glucuronolactone and inositol can sometimes be omitted.

Since coffee is popular all over the world, combining the two recipes for success is an obvious step. Döhler has therefore developed product variants with the very popular cold brew coffee, which acts as a natural source of caffeine. In contrast to the classic coffee taste, cold brew coffee has less acidity and fewer bitter-tasting compounds due to its gentle processing – while its natural caffeine content means that it still delivers the familiar energy kick.

Less sugar – same full taste
Energy drinks are known and loved for their strong, sweet taste enriched with caffeine and vitamins. Although the high sugar content gives consumers the energy kick they want, the trend for sugar reduction is also in demand on the energy drink market and offers enormous growth potential.

Döhler offers numerous product solutions for reduced sugar and zero sugar energy drinks. Using MultiSense® Sweet Flavours, the sugar content can be reduced without compromising sweetness, taste and mouthfeel. Stevia Tea Infusion offers a beverage with the natural benefits of stevia without E numbers, enabling calorie reduction of up to 50%. Naturally reduced sugar products can therefore be created to impress calorie-conscious consumers across the board. 

Energy Plus – energy and functional added value
Consumers are looking for a natural energy boost that not only tastes good, but also has functional added value. While traditional energy drinks mainly appealed to younger consumers thanks to their “tiredness-reducing” claims, the market now covers many target groups and has become a fixed component in daily life.

Examples include the “essential aminos” for sport enthusiasts who do intensive workouts, and “hydration drinks” – a perfect refreshing beverage with low sugar content for gamers. The next generation of energy drinks with functional ingredients, such as minerals, BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) and EAAs (essential amino acids), harbours great marketing potential for numerous positioning options and appeals especially to consumers with an active and health-conscious lifestyle.

Branched-chained amino acids include the proteinogenic amino acids valine, leucine and isoleucine. As essential amino acids, they cannot be formed by the human body. BCAAs are important for developing and regenerating muscles without impeding fat loss. In the USA in particular, BCAA drinks are extremely popular in weight training and endurance sports, and this trend is clear to see in Europe, too. 

Based on its comprehensive ingredient expertise, Döhler provides its customers with high-quality and verified stable BCAAs as plant-based powder mixes to meet the demand for more natural and plant-based solutions. Thanks to this broad and integrated ingredient portfolio and many years of application experience in the energy drinks sector, Döhler is a specialist in formulating product solutions and compounds. The comprehensive portfolio of natural ingredients, such as natural colours, natural flavours, health ingredients and ingredient systems, provides the optimum foundation for innovative product solutions for the energy drink market. In line with the company slogan, “We bring ideas to life.”, Döhler develops custom complete solutions, processes and innovations for its customers – from the field to the supermarket shelves.


1 Global Data - Volume | Category Energy Drinks | January 2020
2 Mintel GNPD | Category: All Natural Claim | January 2020
3 Mintel GNPD | Category: All Natural Claim | January 2020

Source: DEI – Die Ernährungsindustrie
Edition: 06-202




Professional article: Energy Drinks - a booming market | DEI - Die Ernährungsindustrie, Edition 06-2020

Your contact details

Fill in all fields correctly.A technical error has occurredThank you for your request