The global sports & energy drinks market grew by over 7% in 2003 and by a much faster rate than soft drinks in general. This continues a trend that has now seen the market increase by over 50% in the last six years alone, according to research out this week.

A report by drinks analysts Canadean, suggests that the high margins commanded by the products have attracted producers who have moved into both categories. And growth, although, is expected to slow a little in all regions except Asia, but it is estimated that volume will advance by around 24% by 2006

According to the report, Asia and North America dominate global volume, accounting for more than 80% of consumption.

Asia is the leading region, but still remains one of the most under-developed with weak demand in a number of countries. Japan, however, is the jewel in the crown and is bettered only in volume terms by the US. Supported by Japan's strong vending machine channel, still sports drinks are the most popular and are gaining market share slowly, at the expense of energy drinks.

North America, the second largest region, is also growing strongly.
"Demand here is accelerating at more than twice the rate of Asia. Furthermore, sports drinks enjoy a higher share of throat in North America than in any other region, although energy drinks are beginning to gain ground. Off-premise consumption is also the highest in the world, largely as a result of strong sales through the USA's convenience and grocery stores," said Canadean.

The continued success of the categories in Asia and North America has been supported by sharp increases in the Middle East/North Africa and Europe which have advanced by almost 130% since 1997.

Globally, sports drinks account for around 80% of consumption, although there is evidence that energy drinks are growing in popularity. Still variants are the most significant and are particularly dominant in the Americas. Carbonated derivatives are more popular in Europe and Middle East/North Africa, whilst the rest of Africa remains the only significant market for powdered product. Single-serve packs far outsell multi-serve formats reflecting consumption 'on the go'. North America is the one region where this trend is reversed.

"With significant investment being put behind leading brands, and their introduction to and development in new markets, the short-term future for sports & energy drinks looks bright," the report says.