Despite the growing interest in reduced sugar products within soft drinks in general, in sports drinks the trend has been slightly different, as many athletes find the role of sugar in improving their performance undeniable. Furthermore, the concern about artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose has seriously hampered the growth of traditional reduced sugar sports drinks, encouraging suppliers to produce products containing natural sweeteners with fewer calories.
Part of the effort in reinvigorating sales of sports drinks is to address the unhealthy image associated with sports drinks, which was behind PepsiCo’s launch of certified organic variant G Organic in the US, which is likely to enter Canada over the forecast period. Along with the other major sports drinks brand, Powerade, Gatorade continues to receive support in terms of marketing, including social media support, in-store promotions, sports sponsorship and a push in distribution to improve its image as a healthy option, but the efficacy of these efforts is not yet clear.
The relatively high sugar and calorie content in most sports drinks makes them an ideal target for the upcoming regulatory changes. These products might be subject to front-of-package nutrition labelling, which aims to highlight products high in sugar, sodium and saturated fats.
PepsiCo Beverages Canada dominated sports drinks in Canada in retail volume and value terms in 2018, thanks to wide distribution of its Gatorade brand – the brand enjoys a high level of consumer awareness. However, its position is expected to be challenged by new Powerade Zero and VitaminWater Active, introduced by Coca-Cola in April 2018.
Despite the overall slowing of growth in sports drinks and the dominance of two major brands and their strong position in many channels, some smaller brands are seeing growth and are projected to continue to expand and eventually grow out of the niche brand profile. One such brand is BioSteel, which was created by a former professional athlete and is now being distributed in some national retail chains.
One important development in sports drinks in terms of gaining a competitive advantage is to eliminate ingredients which are perceived as unhealthy and unnatural due to the rising health and wellness trend. Major brands, due to their size and corporate structure, are less flexible and responsive than smaller brands in adapting to the latest trends and shifts in consumer preferences.
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Discover the latest market trends and uncover sources of future market growth for the Sports Drinks industry in Canada with research from Euromonitor's team of in-country analysts.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our Soft Drinks market research database.