Leading Irish drinks group Cantrell & Cochrane has launched its first functional beverage, an isotonic sports drink aimed at Irish athletes and backed by a marketing budget of €1 million.
Developed by an Irish sports physiologist Dr Liam Hennessy, Club Energise is said to re-hydrate the body seven times faster than water and replenish energy levels 53 per cent faster. The company highlights recent research showing how flavoured carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks deliver better fluid balance and therefore faster rehydration to the body.
Scientists have also found that carbohydrate drinks maintain blood glucose levels much more effectively than water, leading to the '53 per cent faster than water' claim.
In a twist to the usual product endorsement, C&C Ireland has announced it will donate 6 per cent of net revenue from sales of the drink to the Gaelic Players Association for development of Gaelic games. This is expected to amount to around €500,000 over the first three years, according to the firm.
The partnership will see a localised outdoor advertising and marketing campaign to feature GAA players from this year's All Ireland Championships. The company will also back a series of seminars to educate club managers, coaches and trainers in team preparation and physical training methods.
The Irish sports drink market is valued at €50 million and is currently growing at a rate of 25 per cent per annum. In Europe, sports foods and drinks are driven by trends in the US, where a more competitive market increasingly relies on endorsement by sports stars. Leading US brands, such as Coca Cola's Powerade, have also gained a lead in European markets but a homegrown brand may be able to win over Irish consumers.
Michael McArdle, marketing director of C&C Ireland, said: "Club Energise is about the best of Irish sport, business and medical science combining in a way that benefits the wider community on many fronts including physiological, social, financial and sporting. If Club Energise is enjoyed by those who buy it and we believe it will, then we have found a model for supporting our national sports with each and every bottle of Club Energise that is purchased."
The new drink will be initially released in two flavours, Orange and Lemon, in a 500ml sports pack.