HortResearch says it has carried out ex vivo muscle function tests with an extract from a single fruit, which showed reduced muscle fatigue and the ability to assert a greater force when electrically stimulated. While the work is still in the early days - and the name of the fruit a closely guarded secret - the team are confident a fruit-based energy product would tap into a consumer demand for natural products. Business leader for health food at HortResearch, Karl Crawford, told NutraIngredients.com: "There is a trend right across the board of people looking for the benefits of sports nutrition. They like the recovery it can offer and the performance. "But people are saying that they don't like reading the label of their sports nutrition product and it reads like a chemical formula. They want something natural." The team are also looking into the role fruit may have at aiding the recovery of inflammation. HortResearch has also been busy looking into the role of fruit as a natural calmer for people who lead a busy lifestyle. Big bucks The market for energy drinks and sports nutrition has blossomed over the last few years. Market analysts Mintel said the sports drink market is the UK was worth some 137m (€200m), and is dominated by isotonic drinks like Lucozade Sport, Powerade and Gatorade. In the US, the sports drink market is reported to have generated almost $3bn (€2.4bn). Last August 3A Business Consulting said the market is moving from consumer groups of professional athletes to recreational exercisers and life style users. They said: "The market sees growth rates beyond other foods and beverages and clearly demonstrates how products following the trends of healthy lifestyle, exercise and nutrition, are combined in this area."