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Food and Drink

Energy drinks a fast-growing beverage sector

Marketplace Contributor May 1, 2012

David Brancaccio: Not everyone lovingly brews their morning coffee to get their jolt. So-called energy drinks are one of the fastest-growing sectors of the drinks business. And now the Wall Street Journal reports that Coca-Cola toyed with spending $14 billion for one brand — Monster Energy. Coke denies any deal.

But our New York bureau chief Heidi Moore says the news revved up the energy in the Marketplace newsroom, at least.

Heidi Moore: My editor asked me this morning, “who drinks energy drinks?” Staring at my own stash, I answered him pretty fast: People on deadline.

John Sicher: They’ve gone from being a mixer in bars and clubs for young adults 10, 12 years ago, to a drink used in offices, college students studying, and being a general pick-me-up.

That’s John Sicher, the editor and publisher of Beverage Digest. He says energy drink sales were up 17 percent last year. Sales of energy drinks hit $7 billion in 2011. Here in New York, they’re a big business: Red Bull and other energy drinks are as much a fixture on Wall Street trading floors as coffee or water.

Sicher: With energy drinks, consumers get an immediate payoff, an immediate gratification. They can feel the energy hit almost immediately.

Maybe because of their party-animal past, the names of energy drinks are all about testosterone: Monster, Red Bull, Relentless, Rockstar, Wicked. Coke already has a brand called Full Throttle.

Sicher: You wouldn’t call an energy drink “Lullaby.”

Sicher says we want our drinks to do more than hydrate us. My editor still likes his coffee. But that seems  just so… quaint.

In New York, I’m Heidi Moore for Marketplace.

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