By Ray Latif
Fueled by increased scrutiny and criticism about the energy drink category, nearly six in 10 Americans who are current consumers of the products say that they are concerned about potential health risks associated with the highly-caffeinated beverages, according to a new report from Mintel, a global research firm. Yet while government regulators and public health advocates continue to raise questions about the safety of energy drinks, the category has nonetheless thrived in recent years as consumers identify the beverages as “more effective” than alternative products, Mintel reported.
“Energy drinks and shots faced significant scrutiny following lawsuits and proposed legislation that began in 2012. The media attention publicly challenged the safety and health effects of this pick-me-up category,” said Jenny Zegler, global food and drink analyst for Mintel Food & Drink, in a statement. “However, loyal users continue to drink the products because they are viewed as more effective than other beverages. This continued level of activity in the face of adversity has helped the category’s rise to continue.”
While Mintel research found that only 35 percent of Americans say that they’ve heard negative information about potential health risks related to energy drinks and shots, 59 percent of current energy drink consumers are worried about the safety of the products. Accordingly, most energy drinkers are in favor of labeling that includes recommended daily consumption limits, although female consumers aged 18-34 are in greater numbers (79 percent) calling for the packaging changes than their male counterparts (71 percent).
Although energy drink sales appear to be only mildly affected by safety concerns, the fact that some consumers have been cutting back on purchases is reason enough for manufacturers to “educate the public on the health, safety and global use of energy drinks, shots and mixes” in order to keep users active in the category, Zeglar said. She also noted that “innovations in serving size and/or format” could be a way to retain current consumers.