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The uncertain future of relaxation drinks

By Stephen Daniells , 11-Mar-2011

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The claims being made by relaxation drinks, seen as a counter to the burgeoning energy drinks segment, are not supported by much science.

At Nutracon in Anaheim, Jim Tonkin, president of HealthyBrandBuilders and beverage expert, told Stephen Daniells that he has been looking at the space for about two years and during that time the “business has morphed” from the early melatonin-only formulations.

Formulated to help people unwind or focus better, these new drinks quickly spread from Japan to the US and have found a niche alongside energy drinks.

And the global market for relaxation beverages is booming. Recent research from Zenith International estimates that sales volumes have trebled since 2007 to 133 million liters in 2010 and the retail value of the market has risen to $521m.

Despite such upward growth, Tonkin is not 100% convinced: “Frankly I still don’t know if there is a category there,” he said.

“You have these mixologists putting together these different ingredients, and none of them really know what the best concoction is.”

“There’s never been a clinical study done on that specific concoction, and therein lies the problem,” added Tonkin.

Looking for trouble?

Food and beverage lawyer Mark Ullman has also recently expressed concerns about the relaxation space. “The relaxation product category is a category that’s looking for trouble,” he recently said in an interview with our sister site FoodNavigator-USA.com.

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