The idea of relaxation or alertness drinks first emerged in Japan in 2005 when a group of products came onto the market enriched with (GABA) gamma aminobutyric acid.
Formulated to help people unwind or focus better, these new drinks quickly spread to the US and have found a niche alongside energy drinks.
Zenith estimates that global sales volumes have trebled since 2007 to 133 million litres in 2010 and the retail value of the market has risen to $521m.
The US is now by far the largest market. Relaxation type drinks are emerging in European countries like the UK and Germany but regulatory hurdles are holding them back.
Zenith market analyst Cecilia Martinez told this publication: “The main impediment for relaxation drinks is that certain ingredients such as melatonin have not been approved for use in beverages.”
As a result, relaxation drinks in Europe tend to be made with herbs which have a long history of use in many different products.
Meanwhile, in the US, in addition to melatonin, Martinez said typical ingredients include amino acids such as L-theanine, L-threonine, GABA or 5HTP. Other ingredients include vitamins and minerals like potassium, which is associated with muscle relaxation.
Explaining how alertness and relaxation drinks position themselves, Martinez: “Consumers are now looking for products to help them deal with pressure and to perform effectively without the use of stimulates.
“Alertness drinks are designed to reduce stress and focus the mind. Relaxation drinks usually contain ingredients solely to assist relaxation and in some cases to aid sleep.”
As demand for these drinks grow, big companies may start to take an interest.
Martinez said: “No big players have announced any plans of launching their own products, however, if the category grows as expected over the next couple of years, it will only be a matter of time before they acquire or develop their own offerings.”