Forget a quick burst followed by crash and burn, ingredient suppliers are answering calls (often from Millennials) for a more balanced level of energy.
“Energy—we all wish we had more of it,” said Luc Maes, ND, cofounder of Kaibae, a California-based producer of organic baobab products. “Therefore, energy will always be a driver to promote many products, from snacks, to beverages to vitamin products and even for skin care.”
“The market for natural energy ingredients has always been good, but now it’s growing exponentially,” added Rick Antonoff, president of New Jersey-based Novel Ingredient Services. “We used to think of energy ingredients as strictly for bodybuilders and other serious athletes. But now they’ve come into the mainstream. Everyday lives today are exceptionally busy.”
People of all ages and walks of life are recognizing that they need more energy and better stamina to navigate their day-to-day activities and statistics bear this out, Antonoff noted. “According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, energy is consumers’ No. 2 health concern,” he pointed out. That’s why Novel’s natural energy ingredients—Advantra Z and Kinetiq—have experienced annual double-digit growth since their inception.”
Andrew H. Wheeler, director of marketing with Illinois-based Futureceuticals, said the market for natural energy ingredients is clearly on the upswing, with high demand, as companies set out to differentiate their products. “The sports nutrition market, which is increasingly incorporating natural energy ingredients, has broadened and diversified its audience to include seasoned professionals, weekend warriors, mainstream moms and everyone in-between. Consumers are seeking clean sources of enhanced energy, performance boosters and protein, all derived from natural, healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and greens. Additionally, they have growing concerns over synthetic caffeine due to the negative side effects (e.g. jitters, crash), and mega dosing of synthetic caffeine from energy drinks has led to safety concerns. Consumers are also looking for the value-add in these energy choices.”
In the case of Futureceuticals’ Coffeeberry energy organic caffeine, that manifests in coffee fruit polyphenols and organic caffeine, according to Wheeler.
“We’ve seen considerable growth in the natural energy market,” agreed Sébastien Bornet, vice president of global sales and marketing at Horphag Research (exclusive worldwide supplier of Pycnogenol and Robuvit), with U.S. offices in New Jersey. “More consumers are seeking caffeine-free alternatives that offer a sustained energy boost without the crash to start their day, to overcome a mid-day slump or prepare for a workout. Recent market reports show that the energy supplement market is anticipated to reach more than $66 billion by the year 2020.”
Knowing the Ingredient
Today’s consumers want to know more about the ingredients in their energy products, including whether or not they’re organic.
“Predominantly when it comes to energy, the market is drink dominant, followed behind by supplementation,” said Dominic Leung, senior director, strategy with Interbrand Health, a health care branding agency in New York. “We’ve seen a large shift in beverage toward organic, though it’s still not dominated by organic. In the two drink segments, stimulant and non-stimulant, we see organic on the rise for stimulants and a more natural play beyond organic through ingredients in non-stim. Stimulant beverages are relying on natural sources of caffeine for their claims. There are more than 60 plant sources to choose from such as kola nuts, yerba mate and guarana berries. As a result, manufacturers are telling more stories about the geographical origin of their energy ingredients. The energy market is getting an influx of storytelling similar to the natural food market: what’s the origin, where did it come from, how is it cultivated. This helps to provide a degree of differentiation among brands, but it also helps address consumer perceptions around the unhealthiness of added sugar and energy drinks.”
Leung explained that while the beverage market is made of a few large players, in supplementation you see a much more fragmented share of market. “Here, energy is treated as a more traditional ingredient and stories and brands are rarely developed or cultivated as they are for drinks. In supplements and vitamins, natural energy ingredients have traditionally been added to indicate to the consumer that the overall supplement benefits are ‘working.’”
Antonoff added, “these consumers believe in the benefits of natural and organic products and make a genuine effort to learn about them. So they are demanding natural energy ingredients rather than synthetic options. They’re also more cautious about the safety of the energy products they take, looking for natural, scientifically proven, non-stimulant alternatives to the stimulants that so often were prevalent in past energy formulas. This demand for credibility and transparency has not only been a real opportunity for Novel Ingredient Services, it’s something we’ve espoused since the 1990s, when we introduced Advantra Z, our first branded energy ingredient.”
Consumers are also seeking options that are natural, safe and effective. “They want to feel it working and, if it comes with other health benefits such as detox, even better,” said Bornet. “Caffeine alternatives have evolved as a trend. We’ve also tracked growth for natural energy products in the sports performance category as fitness enthusiasts and athletes look for products to help them maximize workouts, training and marathons.”
“A few years ago, energy shots were the hot product,” Antonoff said. “Now energy drinks are on the rise—expected to reach $61 billion by 2021. The number of new energy drink introductions grew 29 percent between 2010 and 2015. Younger consumers—Millennials—are driving this growth. They are the largest consumers of energy supplements, with 67 percent of men and 47 percent of women using energy drinks.”
In addition, Wheeler said, “Natural, clean label, the energy without the crash—consumers want results but are very aware of their options and are making smart choices that are best for both the desired function and their bodies. Millennials are a big part of the demographic looking for these nutritional details—they want to know (even demand to know) what goes into their products and into their bodies, and are carefully reading labels. Thus ‘natural’ is a strong influencer to their product/ingredient choices.”
Leung argued that the biggest trend affecting this category is the new definition of health, which has resulted in new expectations from consumers. “It’s being driven by a number of factors from modern society and work culture to Millennial ‘insta-gratification’ desires. As the demand of people’s time and attention continues, the need for energy will continue to increase. But from a manufacturing and marketing perspective, energy needs to be better defined in how it supports the way people live their lives. It’s no longer about just staying awake and alert. Energy’s role now need to be defined in the context of endurance, performance, focus, mental clarity—to the point that language gets as granular as the activity for which it should be used. Energy is no longer just energy.”
Considering this, Leung added, there is more of a role for natural ingredients to play. “You’re seeing the rise of ingredients, such as moringa or ginseng, all dealing with stimulation ATP in the body. However, the way in which those ingredients interact with the energy pathways and the net effect that they have on the mind and body versus performance or endurance shifts the role that these ingredients can actually play in day-to-day life.”
The production and demand of non-stimulant energy will continue to grow, particularly in conjunction with the shift in definition of spirituality, he predicted. “The new definition of spirituality is having time to turn off and tune out. This transforms the perception of the way in which consumers are interacting with energy; they see a role for calming energy. Energy is not just about being stimulated. It’s about being in control of one’s mental state and being about to turn on or turn off. Consumers are looking for ways to control the flipping of that switch and to them, that is the role of energy.”
Maes noted that energy is ultimately the reflection of what we eat and how we are able to process it into ATP. “It all starts with a good diet balanced in fats, protein and the carbohydrates to be broken down into ATP with the help of B vitamins, minerals including zinc, magnesium and antioxidants. Thank you mitochondria and Krebs cycle.”
He added that while chronic disease, low blood sugar, digestive problems and anemia should be ruled out as the source of chronic low energy, supplementing a good diet with a concentrated source of these nutrients can add a boost to energy. “Baobab fruit powder, rich in antioxidants, stabilizes blood sugar, improves gut function and is a great source of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium calcium and B vitamins.”
Horphag Research’s newly launched ingredient Robuvit, is a patented, scientific evidence-based and natural plant extract derived from French oak wood. Robuvit is rich in roburins and other flavonoids unique to the oak genus and it works as a caffeine-free natural energizer to increase energy, boost sports performance and help manage fatigue, Bornet explained.
Currently, Novel offers two branded ingredients specifically designed for generating energy naturally. “Twenty years ago, Novel was a pioneer in this category with Advantra Z,” Antonoff said. “Now we also offer an enhanced version called Kinetiq.” Both are thermogenic ingredients. “These two scientifically supported, non-stimulant natural ingredients not only follow strict quality assurance/quality control guidelines, but also provide the quality value that is necessary for the long-term viability, confidence and stability of a consumer brand. Both offer excellent stability across a range of delivery forms: tablets, capsules, powders, beverages, as well as functional foods.”
Advantra Z, Novel’s proprietary bitter orange extract, safely ignites the metabolism to jumpstart energy production at the cellular level. It works by increasing thermogenesis to help burn calories and fat. As the calories and fat burn, energy is released. In fact, Advantra Z has been shown to intensify exercise tolerance as much as 83 percent.
Kinetiq, a patented and enhanced bitter orange extract, builds on Advantra Z’s time-tested track record, adding standardized levels of narigin and hesperidin, two citrus bioflavonoids that occur naturally in the bitter orange fruit. This new, patented blend has a powerful and synergistic thermogenic effect that has been shown to significantly boost resting metabolic rate.
Ingredients’ Unique Features
Roburins, found exclusively in Horphag’s Robuvit, enhance basic cellular functions to combat the aging process, increase energy and fend off fatigue. Roburins have been valued for centuries, which is why so many wine and spirits are aged in oak wood barrels.
Bornet noted that gut microbiota process roburins into bioactive metabolites, known as urolithins. “These urolithins are shown to generate more cellular powerhouses, mitochondria, with more energy available for sports and for overcoming fatigue. Clinical trials demonstrated that supplementation with Robuvit maximizes energy disposability to provide individuals, who frequently experience periods of fatigue, with the needed extra energy.”
Published research on clinical investigations with Robuvit is rapidly growing with currently 14 studies published, including articles in print.
For example, a 2015 peer-reviewed study published in Phytotherapy Research shows that Robuvit helps fatigue-sufferers feel more energy and fewer symptoms of fatigue in as little as four weeks.
On the stimulatory side, said Wheeler, “Coffeeberry energy is our proprietary combination of organic caffeine and unique polyphenols from whole coffee fruit … not just the bean. It is a natural ingredient that is fully soluble, non-bitter, colorless, and is well suited for any application. The only ‘must’ is dosage, which would depend upon the application of course. For example, in beverages, we tend to think it is best to keep the caffeine in the range of what would occur naturally in a good strong cup of coffee. The polyphenols in the fruit, some of which do not exist in the bean alone, are a real value-add for Coffeeberry Energy that makes it unique.”
On the endogenous energy side, Wheeler continued, there is elevATP. “This clinically and functionally studied blend of ancient peat and a proprietary apple extract has been shown to in multiple clinical studies to increase serum levels of human ATP. It is important to note that elevATP is not ATP, but a unique material that helps the body produce significantly higher levels of its own ATP. Under functional study, elevATP has been documented to help increase strength, power and performance for resistance-trained athletes. So this is a great healthy energy, as well as sports nutrition solution for product marketers,” Wheeler said.
“We think our product is unique in the marketplace because it is not ‘only’ caffeine; it contains other important components of the coffee fruit; the coffee fruit polyphenols whole coffee cherries,” Wheeler explained. “It is harder to do, costs more to make, and takes more attention to detail, but we believe that these aspects distinguish our ingredient from the other one-note caffeine ingredients that are out there. Coffeeberry energy delivers a more balanced level of energy; not as jittery or bitter.”
As for Kaibae, Maes noted that lost crops are harvested from the Savanna, the Amazon and the oceans. “In partnership with local communities, we harvest plants that are potent, pure and wild.” Kaibae boasts powerful nutrients the way nature intended to endure the demands of these harsh environments.
Maes explained that the baobab tree survives the harshest environment in sub-Saharan Africa … an almost uninhabitable place in the world. Over time, the baobab has adapted to its environment. As a succulent, during the rainy season it absorbs and stores water in its vast trunk, enabling it to produce a nutrient-dense fruit in the dry season when all around is dry and arid.
“The baobab tree,” he said, “rightfully named the African Tree of Life, in a very odd and interesting way provides answers to many of reasons we can experience low energy.” The fruit is low glycemic—stabilizes sugar metabolism, contains prebiotic fiber—supports gut function, is high in minerals—magnesium, calcium, potassium, and is high in vitamin C, which helps with iron absorption—a perfect recipe for energy restoration. NIE
Energy Ingredients and Fitness vs. the Sport Market
Dominic Leung, senior director, strategy with New York-based InterbrandHealth said when it comes to energy ingredients and the fitness and sports markets, “We’re seeing more investment in clinical trials, and we’re seeing an increase in creating more specificity around the energy market, particularly natural ingredients, things like dietary nitrate. People are now looking at the ATP (adenosine triphosphate) pathway in totality, substrates that feed into it, that activate it, that manage it, that turn it off and on.”
He added that consumers’ lack understanding about how energy works in the body, therefore energy becomes a commodity. “Ingredient manufacturers need to protect against this by demonstrating evidence and understanding about how their product works in a consumer’s body and how the product supports them. Energy needs to be more than a feeling. Mental energy for example can help with concentration, could help you be more resilient, could aid in cognition, and could keep you awake. Each of these is a part of mental energy, but consumers need that differentiation of the utility,” Leung explained.
“Fitness is a broader market than sports,” he continued. “People need to consider fitness in the context of lifestyle and what kind of lifestyle people are looking to cultivate. Ingredients should be applied to help them achieve the mental, physical, spiritual balance and storytelling should be used to differentiate. “For sports, though the mental and physical need to be addressed, this market requires more targeting around either performance or endurance and a greater focus on physiological activation. Everything is a balance of science and storytelling for differentiation, but Sports leans more towards the technical.”
It’s also important to look at energy ingredients in the context of other things the consumer is doing, Leung added. “Energy doesn’t exist in a void—if you don’t get specific in talking about how energy affects lifestyle, then consumers will see it as playing a secondary and not primary role. For energy to be primary, it must be defined by how it shows up for a consumer: in work, play, relaxation and activation.”
For More Information:
Futureceuticals, (815) 507-1415
Horphag, (201) 459-0300
Interbrand Health, (212) 798-7500
KAIBAE, (855) 465-2422
Novel Ingredient Services, (973) 808-5900