The market researcher has highlighted that the sector is being boosted by innovation in ingredients and applications, which are stretching the boundaries of the category.
"Energy bars are familiar to many Americans but other energized foods, such as candy, chips, milk and cereal, are definitely not. We expect the concept of 'energy' – both physical and mental – to greatly influence food product development," said Krista Faron, senior new product analyst at Mintel.
Faron said that Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) – which tracks all new products launched onto the market – had picked up a number of ‘energy’ ingredients moving from drinks into foods.
These include ginseng, guarana and taurine, which are already popular in energy drinks and which now appear in snacks like NRG Phoenix Fury chips with taurine, or Full Charge sunflower seeds with ginseng and guarana.
Caffeine is another beverage ‘tonic’ ingredient that has started appearing in products including energy bars and cereal, such as Morning Spark’s caffeine-fortified instant oatmeal.
Superfoods – an in particular superfruits – are also now added into foods for mental and physical performance benefits, said Mintel. The researcher cited the example of Think Green Superfood Energy Bar, which includes blueberries and noni powder.
"Energy is poised to take food in a new direction, giving consumers who need a boost many different ways to get it,” said Faron.
"From natural energizers like omega-3s or antioxidants to foods that are fortified with energizing ingredients, we are seeing 'energy' to emerge as a core benefit in new food products."
Mintel’s findings re-iterate comments made by another consumer trend analyst earlier this week. Market insight issued by CScout also identified that foods with added stimulants are stealing a march on energy drinks.
The analyst said that manufacturers are looking to attract customers with foods that provide all the stimulation of energy drinks, therefore offering the potential to cut out high levels of sugar, unpleasant tastes and unnatural chemicals.
The trend monitor and strategic consultancy gave the example of Engobi’s caffeine-infused Energy Go Bites, with 70 percent higher caffeine content compared to conventional energy drinks.
And Dakota Valley Products uses a patented process to manufacture natural, healthy seeds infused with caffeine, taurine, lysine, and ginseng. This is said to give twice the amount of energy as an energy drink without the added sugar.
A CScout spokesperson said: “This trend shows that consumers may be distinguishing between somewhat unhealthy stimulants, which they desire, and high sugar content in drinks, which they do not.”
“Stimulants could be infused into many other foods – breakfast foods may be a particularly good candidate, including energy-giving cereals, breads and spreads.”
Mintel’s latest report on energy drinks, published in July 2008, values the retail market at $4.8bn, which represents a massive 400 percent growth since 2003.
In 2003, GNPD had recorded 80 new US energy drink launches. In 2007, the firm tracked 187 new launches. So far in 2008, GNPD has recorded 270 new energy drinks launched in the US.
This increase in new products mirrors an increase in consumers that say they buy energy drinks. In 2003, 9 percent of adult respondents to a survey by Mintel had said they consume energy drinks; in 2008, that number had increased to 15 percent.
However, the consumer segment that revealed the most growth was teens. Mintel’s latest survey found that 35 percent of teenagers regularly consume energy drinks, up from 19 percent in 2003.
"Energy drinks have quickly become a daily beverage choice. As more Americans use energy drinks, we've seen a rise in products being launched with innovative new ingredients, claims and consumer targets," said Faron.