DSM Food Specialties is hoping to test its new recovery drink on a team of racing drivers next summer. The trial could lead to a more long-term involvement with the sport and raise awareness of the finished product, said the Dutch company.
The drink, which includes DSM proteins, is being developed as part of the company's sponsorship of the Dutch athletes participating in next year's Olympic Games.
Research at NUTRIM, the Food and Toxicology Research Institute of the University of Maastricht, found the product to speed up the replenishment of fuel reserves in muscles following high-intensity exercise. This enables athletes to reach their optimum performance level faster and to perform at this level for longer.
DSM's Food Specialties division is currently in discussion with Dutch racing legend and former Le Mans winner Jan Lammers and his team to test the drink during the Le Mans 24-hour race next June.
The event is thought to be the ideal environment to highlight the drink's ability to speed up energy recovery after intensive physical effort. It involves long hours of hard driving in which drivers can lose several litres of fluid during a two-to-three hour driving stint, and have only hours to recover before the next stage.
"Driving racing cars for long periods of time takes a heavy physical toll and fast recovery is a major issue, because there is not much time between driving stints. Every little bit helps!" claims Lammers.
DSM is aiming to develop an extensive testing programme on the product, which contains casein fragments that stimulate insulin release in the body, allowing glucose to be absorbed faster from the blood into the muscle cells. Once absorbed by the muscles, glucose is converted into glycogen, which acts as a muscle fuel. The faster this process takes place following high-intensity exercise, the faster athletes can perform again at their optimum level, according to DSM Food Specialties.
The drink could eventually be available on the global market, through partnership with a soft drink manufacturer.
The European sports nutrition market is to grow by 8.4 per cent between 2002-2009, according to data from analysts Frost & Sullivan, with beverages holding a significant share of the market. Endorsement from sports professionals, widely used in the much larger US market, is beginning to catch on in Europe.
DSM's pharma unit has recently packaged its creatine for sale directly to the consumer via its marketing partner Dolder, beginning in Germany as a test market.