Sport drinks are beverages designed to act as a supplement during exercise and comprise a vast array of products that range from the complex nutritional solutions for professionals to the most common isotonic products for occasional consumers. These products are widespread among the large retail distribution chains. There are functional differences in this kind of beverages:
Isotonics: these have the same saline concentration as body fluids; therefore they rapidly re-integrate liquids and minerals lost through sweating and supply energy thanks to their carbohydrate contents.
Hypotonics: these contain molecules in inferior concentrations as compared to those found in blood; thereby their re-integration action is faster than those of isotonics, but not so beneficial as carbohydrates.
Hypertonics: (with more molecules as compared to blood) nomally used to intake carbohydrates after physical exercise in order to top up muscle glycogen stores.
Significant market growth has occurred both in terms of volume and in brands and producers. First place, on a worldwide scale, in terms of consumption pro-capite goes to the USA, with over 15 liters per head (versus a world average of 1,8 liters). The USA ranks as the main reference market, followed by China/Japan, where the consumption pro-capite is of 12.5 liters and the total consumption is approximately 38% of worldwide consumption.
The growth of this segment is estimated to reach 14 billion liters by 2010, with an increase from the current 1.8 liters per head up to 2.5 litres per head on a worldwide scale. Among the markets with the major growth rate Eastern Europe (+19% from 2004 to 2005) and the Middle East are prominent. The Middle East market, although starting from a relatively low pro-capite consumtion, has experienced a growth rate in excess of 17% in the same years.