MUSKEGON, Mich. -- The functional foods market continues to grow, with ready-to-drink nutraceutical beverages second only in sales to ready-to-eat cereals (see story in Supermarket Beverage on Page 36).
Although these beverages are infused with extra vitamins and claim to proffer health-related perks -- such as increased energy and immune-boosting benefits -- SN has found that some U.S. consumers are still basing the purchase of these products on taste alone. And, those shoppers that SN spoke with who do claim to seek medicinal components in their drinks had mixed feelings as to whether the products deliver.
Here are some of their responses:
"I've tried Gatorade, which my daughter drinks a lot, mainly to see how it tasted. She's in sports and drinks it because it helps replenish fluids. She also has low blood sugar so when it gets too low, we make sure she has some around the house to quickly get her sugar levels back up to normal."
Donna Matheny, 38, administrative assistant, Muskegon, Mich.
"I drink Gatorade and Powerade quite a bit when I play tennis, but I can't say I drink that more than water. I'm sure it's better for you than pop or other drinks, but I think there's a lot of hype surrounding what they claim to do for you. I also drink SoBe quite a bit, but only for the taste."
Brose Bates, 44, salesman, Muskegon, Mich.
"My husband and I drink Gatorade when we golf because it's really the only flavored drink other than soda that they have available at the course. We mostly buy it for the flavor, but I would definitely be more apt to purchase a drink with natural herbs or ingredients like ginseng because they're much better for you than caffeine and other ingredients in soda."
Lisa Southland, 34, secretary, Muskegon, Mich.
"I've had a lot of Gatorade and SoBe since I've worked in a bunch of different stores selling them. Gatorade's been around for a while, but I tried SoBe because I wanted to see what it tasted like and because the bottles are so interesting. I did try the SoBe with ginseng in it to see if it would give me energy and I could tell a little difference, similar to how caffeine in tea gives me extra energy. I'd try it again, but more for the taste than what it's supposed to do for you."
Jennifer Klukos, 21, cashier, Dalton, Mich.
"I drink Gatorade religiously during the summer because I work third shift in a print shop where it gets really hot and sticky. When I first started working there, I drank water because I know Gatorade has a lot of sugar, but I tried it once and I felt so much better and not as sick from the heat. I also drink Arizona Iced Tea with ginseng occasionally because I used to take ginseng pills, but they were expensive and I didn't need the boost every day. So, I'll have a tea every now and then when I know I'll need the extra energy."
Amy Bont, 35, photoprocessor, North Muskegon, Mich.
"I've tried SoBe before and liked the taste, but I don't intentionally buy any drinks with nutraceuticals. We drink more pop and juice than anything else and tend to buy beverages more for the taste instead of what they have in them."
Vince Pannucci, 29, salesman, North Muskegon, Mich.
"Gatorade's really good and it's supposed to make you feel better, too. I used to run a lot and would drink it to replace fluids. I've also tried SoBe a few times because a lot of my friends said it was really good. I can't say that it made me feel any different though."
Sherri Rogers, 21, stock and inventory personnel, Dalton, Mich.
"We drink a lot of SoBe, Gatorade and Powerade at our house. My wife swears up and down that they give her a lot of energy. I own my own masonry company and when I drink any of these before or during work, my body doesn't cramp up as much. We even give Powerade to our 3-year-old and 1-year-old girls because they seem to be a lot less cranky when they drink it."
Bernie Brennan, 32, brick mason, Harrisburg, Pa.
"The only thing I've really tried that's supposed to make you feel any different is Gatorade. But I didn't drink it because of what's in it and I didn't really feel different after drinking it. I chose it for the flavor mostly."
Candy Gee, 29, cashier, Dalton, Mich.
"I've heard of the new drink Red Bull, but I haven't tried it. I have tried a few different kinds of SoBe to see what they tasted like and could tell that they woke me up a little bit and gave me a little more energy. Other than that, I used to play baseball and would drink Gatorade during and after games because I was thirsty, but not to replace electrolytes or anything. Mostly I drink Coke because I like the taste."