It’s been more than 25 years since Red Bull marketed and introduced caffeinated energy drinks to the United States. While the company claimed its drink would “give you wings,” it never said it was actually good for people.
Yet as the energy drink market continues to grow rapidly, companies both new and old are trying to attract health-conscious consumers with a wave of no-sugar, low-calorie drinks that promise to boost energy. as well as replenishing electrolytes and other fluids. Component.
Offerings include beverages from the popular brand Celsius, in which PepsiCo has an investment and uses the marketing line “Celsius Live Fit”. It claims to be made with “healthy ingredients” like ginger, green tea, and vitamins. Similarly, the influencer-endorsed Prime Energy is sugar-free and contains electrolytes, a main ingredient in most sports drinks.
“They’re all zero sugar or zero calories,” said Jim Watson, a beverage analyst at Rabobank, a bank based in the Netherlands that focuses on food and agriculture. Energy drink consumption has increased partly because of the shift away from sweetened sodas over the decades, he said. “They’re going for the healthy image.”
Even Gatorade, which has long marketed the beverage to athletes hoping to replenish lost fluids or electrolytes after strenuous exercise, is jumping into the caffeine arms race. Are. This year, Gatorade released Fast Twitch, a sugar-free drink in flavors like Strawberry Watermelon and Cool Blue — with caffeine levels equivalent to more than two cups of coffee.
This new focus has helped the energy drink market grow, with sales in the United States increasing from $12 billion to $19 billion over the past five years, according to market research firm Circana.
PepsiCo last year paid $550 million for an 8.5 percent stake in Celsius. In May, Celsius said that revenue for the first quarter of this year was $260 million, more than double from a year ago. At that ferocious pace, revenue could surpass $1 billion this year, rising from $314 million two years ago. Celsius’s stock has soared to $144 per share from $69 a year ago. Similarly, the stock of beverage company Monster Energy has gained 31 per cent in the last one year.
But there are concerns that drinks being touted as healthy are resulting in children and teens consuming unhealthy amounts of caffeine.
In March, neon-colored Prime Energy cans began appearing in lunchrooms full of fourth and fifth graders in the Wilmington public school district in Massachusetts. The popular drinks were released in January by social media stars Logan Paul and Olajide Olayinka Williams Olatunji, better known as KSI.
For some young students, Prime energy drinks, which come in flavors like Strawberry Watermelon and Orange Mango, were delicious liquid gold.
“We even had entrepreneurs in fourth and fifth grade who were bringing them to school and selling them to other kids at lunch,” said Rebecca Brown, the district’s health services coordinator.
But the eye-catching cans pack a serious punch. A 12-ounce can of Prime Energy contains 200 mg of caffeine. That’s roughly the equivalent of two Red Bulls, two cups of coffee, or six cans of Coca-Cola.
some schools in the UK Australia Beverages have already been banned. In the United States, federal regulations state that schools cannot sell or provide caffeinated beverages to elementary or middle school students, although many schools do not restrict what students can bring from home.
“Shortly after drinking them, students turned up at the health office saying they didn’t feel well and their hearts were pounding,” Ms Brown said. Should not be brought to school.
A 12-ounce can of Red Bull contains about 114 milligrams of caffeine — more than three times as much as a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola. Prime Energy has more: 200 mg in each 12-ounce can. One 16-ounce can of Bang Energy drink, the size typically sold in convenience stores, contains 300 milligrams of caffeine.
In an emailed response to questions Mr Paul, the social media personality, and representatives for Prime Energy said the drink is labeled on the company’s cans as “not recommended for children under the age of 18”. But parents and school officials are sometimes confusing the drink with Prime Hydration, the caffeine-free sports drink sold in bottles popular with social media stars. That drink is also hugely popular, with over $250 million in sales in its first year and customers waiting in line for hours to buy it at some grocery stores in the UK.
“Everyone thought Red Bull was the peak of caffeine in energy drinks,” says Dr. Ryan Stanton, who said he saw patients, especially at local colleges, complaining of feeling anxious around the last week. and experiencing heart palpitations after consuming too much caffeine. “Now, some of these drinks contain two or three times the level of caffeine as Red Bull.”
Studies have shown that consuming caffeine can have health benefits, but consuming too much of it can lead to heart and gastric problems. The Food and Drug Administration has investigated reports over the years of people dying shortly after consuming energy drinks or five-hour energy shots. But the agency has never established a link between the two, an FDA spokeswoman said in response to emailed questions.
Adults are advised to consume no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day. Pediatricians recommend that 12 to 18-year-olds consume no more than 100 milligrams of caffeine per day, and that children under 12 should avoid caffeine altogether.
Over the years, efforts have been made to increase government regulation of energy drinks and limit the amount of caffeine allowed in beverages. MLAs of many states including Indiana And Connecticut, has considered banning the sale of energy drinks to minors. But the industry has successfully pushed back, partly by arguing that young people can get caffeine from a myriad of sources, including soda and coffee. For example, a 16-ounce Cinnamon-Caramel-Cream Cold Brew from Starbucks contains 265 milligrams of caffeine (not to mention 260 calories).
About a decade ago, the energy drink industry through its lobbying arm, the American Beverage Association, voluntarily adopted a set principles, including labeling the amount of caffeine in products and noting on packaging that the beverages were not recommended for children. The industry also agreed not to sell or market its products in schools.
But critics say some energy drinks are clearly marketed to younger customers. Last year, consumer advocacy group truth in advertising Companies like C4 Energy, which sells drinks in flavors like Starburst and Skittles, and Ghost Energy, which sells Sour Patch Kids and Swedish Fish-flavored drinks, which contain more caffeine than two cups of coffee, are trying to appeal to minors. Had been
Dan Lourenco, Ghost’s chief executive and co-founder, said in an email that the company’s products were geared toward millennials looking for the nostalgic tastes of their youth. C4 Energy, which is owned by Nutrabolt, did not respond to an email seeking comment.
US Department of Agriculture, whose Smart Snacks program sets nutritional standards for foods and drinks Products sold in schools It said that any products sold in elementary and middle schools must be caffeine-free. But there are restrictions on the number of calories for beverages sold in high schools but no restrictions on caffeine levels.
Furthermore, the FDA does not have specific regulations around “energy drinks,” considering it a marketing term. A spokeswoman for the agency added in an email that companies were still responsible for including safe amounts of caffeine in beverages.
Chloe Fitzgibbon, 17, who graduated from Lincoln Southeast High School in Lincoln, Neb., in May, questioned whether the school cafeteria should sell energy drinks in an article published last year on the website of the school’s newspaper, The Bugle, Noting that the school sold Kickstarter, its version of Mountain Dew, Ms Fitzgibbon said students opted for the drink not only for the jolt of energy but also for the ease of buying it through their student accounts.
The high school cafeteria sells several caffeinated beverages, including Kickstart, which contains 68 milligrams of caffeine in a 12-ounce can, and sparkling water bubbler, with 69 milligrams of caffeine in a 12-ounce can. Mindy Burbach, a spokeswoman for Lincoln Public Schools, said in an email that students were limited to purchasing two caffeinated beverages each day.
“When I took an early morning class, AP Psych, almost everyone brought coffee or they would buy the energy drinks that we sell at school,” Ms. Fitzgibbon said.
Pasco County School District, a Florida district just north of Tampa, also offers Kickstart drinks to high school students in their vending machines. But Stephen Hegarty, a spokesman for the district, said PepsiCo, which owns the brand, marketed the drink as an “enhanced soft drink,” not an “energy drink.” PepsiCo declined to comment.
“If you go to any of our high schools, you will see students walking in with Starbucks, and some of those drinks contain a lot of caffeine,” Mr. Hegarty said. “I’m not sure what the definition of an energy drink is these days.”