Sales of sports and energy drinks in the UK are set to hit the GBP1bn (US$1.6bn) mark in 2009, according to new research by Mintel.

After growth of 51% between 2004 and 2008, sales of sports and energy drinks continue to thrive in the face of economic pressures, according to a study released today (30 September) by market research group Mintel.

The market grew by 10% from GBP855m in 2007 to reach GBP941m in 2008. Volume sales are also "impressive", according to the report, with 484m litres consumed last year, up 10% on 2007. 

In 2009, the market is estimated to reach 525m litres and a value of just over GBP1bn.

"Unlike other markets such as smoothies, which were seeing impressive growth until the recession arrived, sports and energy drinks have continued to grow their value," said Jonny Forsyth, senior drinks analyst at Mintel.

"Cash-squeezed consumers are viewing these products as value for money rather than a luxury, which stands in contrast to smoothies and bottled water, both of which have suddenly seen growth reverse."

The researched also showed that, over the next five years, value sales are forecast to increase by 48% to reach GBP1.5bn, whilst volume sales will rise by 44% to reach 757m litres.

Within the market, it is energy drinks that are driving the sales, according to Mintel. The energy drinks market (GBP716m) currently dwarfs sports drinks, with 2008 value sales of GBP225m. In terms of actual sales, the energy drinks market experienced a GBP241m increase between 2004 and 2008, in contrast to GBP89m for sports drinks.

"The challenge for the industry going forward is to grow its user base by successfully targeting females, 35-54 year olds and workers," said Forsyth.

"This means increasingly stealing share from carbonates and bottled water in particular. The problem is that energy drinks appeal most to the physically active and men aged between 15 and 34 do more exercise than anyone else. A more mainstream opportunity lies in targeting mental rather than physical energy."