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Dispatches from the ADA conference 2011

Bazi launches bid to dominate new healthy energy shot market

By Elaine Watson , 30-Sep-2011

The firm behind Bazi – an antioxidant-rich energy shot claimed to trump rivals in the nutrition stakes – reckons it could be a $100m brand in four to five years as consumers look for something that will give them more than a caffeine blast.

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the American Dietetic Association annual conference in San Diego earlier this week, Bazi president Kevin Sherman said a lot of consumers avoided energy shots because they thought they were unhealthy, or an expensive alternative to coffee.

Highs without the lows

In contrast, a 2oz bottle of Bazi contained 80mg of caffeine from natural coffee extract for instant energy, but also included a blend of eight different anti-oxidant-rich fruits (jujube, acai, chokeberry, goji, pomegranate, blueberry, raspberry and sea buckthorn), several vitamins, grapeseed extract and minerals, he said.

The shot – which comes with a $2.99 price tag consistent with other shots – is sweetened with organic cane sugar, and while the caffeine provided an immediate pick-me-up, it was not followed by a ‘crash’ later on, claimed Sherman.

“It’s not the fountain of youth, but we believe Bazi is the healthiest energy shot out there. We believe we can dominate the healthy shot market.”

Initial sales had been very encouraging for the 40-calorie shot, which hit 7-11 stores nationwide in January and recently secured listings at Whole Foods Market, Rite Aid, Circle K, Sports Authority and Life Time Fitness Gyms, he said.

“We’re also looking at line extensions.”

Healthy shots?

While most energy shots are low or zero calorie, they are not generally regarded as being particularly healthy, and have been criticized by consumer groups worried drinkers might ‘overdose’ on caffeine and B vitamins because they are unaware that shots are dietary supplements and should be consumed in moderation.

However, new market entrants such as Bazi and Hain Celestial’s new refrigerated kombucha energy shot (launching next month) are trying to position themselves on a healthier, all-natural, platform.

The size of the prize

Figures supplied to FoodNavigator-USA by SymphonyIRI reveal that US sales of energy shots surged 27.2% to $1.05bn in the 52 weeks ending August 7, 2011 (covering supermarkets, drugstores, gas/c-stores and mass market retailers excluding Walmart).

The category remains completely dominated by one brand – 5-Hour Energy – which has almost 90% of the market.

Its closest competitor – the Stacker 6-hour power energy shot – saw sales dip 6.39% to $29.38m over the same period, giving it just 2.8% of the market, while third-positioned Red Bull posted a 44.2% slump in sales to $20.25m, giving it a 1.93% share.

None of the remaining branded players was able to notch up more than $8m in sales over the period, although Spike Double Shots, E6 six-hour energy shots, Energy 2000 and Tweaker shots all reported strong growth, albeit from a small base.

Sales of private label energy shots were also up strongly, rising 93% to take fourth place in the rankings, generating sales of $11.53m.