Asia accounts for nearly half of the world's sales of sports and energy drinks and contains five of the top 10 markets in per capita terms, yet it is one of the most underdeveloped global markets, and the two categories have only a weak presence in a number of countries in the region.
A new report by beverage industry analysts Canadean contrasts the performance of sports and energy drinks in markets worldwide. It finds that Japan, which takes two fifths of the region's volume, has the world's highest per capita consumption at 15 litres, while China's volume is only a third of Japan's and consumes around half a litre.
A populous nation like India has minuscule sales, and any sales in Pakistan are too small to be reported at all, according to the report. A dynamic market in Indonesia, however, has seen growth averaging 24 per cent a year since 1996.
Asia, along with North America, accounts for more than four fifths of global volume, a situation that is not expected to change in the medium term future, reports Canadean. The most dynamic growth rates, however, will be seen in the Middle East/North Africa region, where markets are small by international standards.
The report notes that sports and energy drinks remain high value, low volume products, and although worldwide sales are predicted to exceed 11 billion litres by 2005, per capita consumption will still be tiny at just 1.5 litres.
It is also American and Asian companies that take the largest share of sales on the world's markets. Quaker Oats (producer of Gatorade sports drink), owned by PepsiCo since late 2000, is the strongest international company and estimated to account for nearly a third of world sales by virtue of its dominance in the Americas. Coca-Cola, the second largest company with around 15 per cent, last year relaunched Powerade, backed by significant investment, onto its most important markets - Australasia followed by Asia and North America.
Japan's Otsuka (manufacturer of Pocari Sweat sports drink) is the largest single player in Asia and the only other company to hold more than 10 per cent of the global market.
The Canadean analysts confirm that both the sports and energy categories will remain dynamic in coming years as the leading brands establish themselves in more markets. Currently sports drinks hold some three-quarters of the world market while energy drinks lead in East Europe and Middle East/North Africa.
Sports drinks manufacturers must continue to appeal to consumers away from the sports field and maintain loyalty in the face of competition from other products, advises the report. Energy drinks are, however, increasingly expected to gain support beyond their current young customer base.
"The manufacturers' challenge will be to appeal to the older consumer while still attracting each successive group of young purchasers and not losing them to a new fashionable product," it concludes.