Glanbia finds new ways to feed energy demand

GlanbiaEnergy drinks are a global multi-billion dollar industry, which continues to show growth, despite the continued use of some controversial ingredients in classic energy drinks and lifestyle products.

Brands are continually adapting to consumer needs. Current trends dictate energy drinks ingredients that are healthy, add no sugar to the diet, stem from natural sources and provide slow-burning, sustainable energy to the body.

Euromonitor predicts a 40 per cent growth in the energy drinks sector by 2020. This represents an estimated €54.4 billion in market value. Growth is fostered by consumer expectation of beverages that can satisfy the need for functionality. This could include de-stressing, relaxation, optimised hydration and nutrition.

In order to stay competitive, players in the energy drinks market must adapt and refine product ranges. This has resulted in innovative flavours and concepts being launched.  

A recent Mintel report states that start-ups and new players, other than the typical energy drinks giants, are driving category blurring in this sector. Innovation is often inspired and driven by creating new beverage categories, such as combining energy function to traditional fruit juices, RTD tea, bottled waters and dairy drinks.

What’s new on the market?

An example is Naka Focus, an innovative product of a Swedish start-up. This energy drink is based on green tea, and contains guarana and ginseng. Branded as “A drink to think”, it is targeted at consumers in high-pressure environments. It aims to fill the needs of modern and health-conscious consumers looking for an alternative solution to lifestyle energy drinks and coffee.

Canadian product, Guru Energy Water, is a combination of flavoured sparkling water, infused with caffeine extracted from green tea. The beverage is sugar-free, and sweetened with natural ingredients (erythritol and stevia). It crosses the line between energy drinks and bottled water and serves the demand for healthier carbonated drinks without sugar, but with added functionality.

In the past, dairy drinks relied on its probiotic features to claim health benefits. These products can get a boost through the addition of ingredients with energy claims such as the B vitamins and adaptogens. Danone launched Actimel Pro-Vital in Spain in 2015. This product contains the adaptogen ginseng and vitamins B6, B9 and B12, thereby adding energy claims to the beverage.

The launch of Live Real Farms Energy Drink is another innovative product. The dairy drink is made with lactose-free skim milk, fruit juice, whey protein isolate with added vitamin B12 and green tea extract.

Trends in the sports beverage category are focused on health orientated mainstream nutrition. Proteins are recognised as a source of slow burning, sustainable energy, without the unfavourable effects associated with the consumption of high amounts of caffeine and sugar.

Launches of beverages containing whey proteins, include Hi Protein from Hi Ball in San Francisco or Nocco BCAA in the US or Focus BCAA in Austria. The success of such “cross-over” products depends on developing the right taste combinations, without infringing on the energy source function of protein. It should also appeal to mainstream consumers searching for a healthy source of slow burn energy.

The energy drink market is following globally diverse trends. Cross purposing between energy drinks and other beverage segments can bring new opportunities for the savvy beverage manufacturer who wants to meet the evolving demands of this sector.

Glanbia products feeding energy demand

Cross-fertilisation of categories opens new ways to use functional ingredients. Energy generating metabolisms can be targeted in very diverse ways. A few examples are listed and described briefly.


Product example


Health related claims

Natural caffeine


Extracts from green tea, green coffee, matcha, guarana

Caffeine helps to increase alertness, improve concentration, and contributes to an increase in endurance performance

Natural ingredients related to energy claims


Mineral complex generated from milk, containing 24 per cent calcium

Calcium contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism and neurotransmission


Bioferrin Lactoferrin

Iron-binding protein fraction from whey, in combination with iron. Supports iron intake

Increasing iron intake helps with optimising blood oxygenation. Iron contributes to normal energy yielding metabolism




Anti-fatique, anti-stress activity

Whey and dairy proteins as slow burn energy source


Acidified whey protein isolate system formulated for acidic beverages and optimal flavour expression

Good source of whey protein


SolmikoHD MPI

Spray dried milk protein isolate powder from fresh ultra-filtered skim milk. For optimal flavour expression and solubility in pH-neutral beverages. Heat stable

Good source of milk protein at low lactose content



Branched chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine). Cold water soluble, rapid and clear solubility, for optimal flavour expression in beverages

May reduce fatigue in anaerobic and endurance sports

Slow release resources for carbohydrates

BevGrad XS

Finely milled golden flaxseed. Powder disperses easily in water and has a clean and smooth taste

Naturally rich in long-chain carbohydrates for sustained energy release. Good source of vegetable protein




Slow-release energy