Who Consumes The Most Sports Drinks?

Have you ever wondered about who actually needs sports drinks? Answer: [Almost] Nobody. Hydration, electrolytes, isoschmonics –  it’s yet another example of 1st-rate marketing hoopla.

Sure, if you’re running a marathon, or playing at Wimbledon this week and the sun happens to be glimpsing out in between alternating episodes of drizzle and hailstorms, these concoctions may have the edge over water. But that’s not what and who this sickly sweet swill is aimed at. If  manufacturers set out to make drinks solely for committed athletes, they’d be out of business faster than you could swing a hockey stick.

Sports drinks are targeted at adolescent boys (and adolescent men). I mean, who in their right mind would drink something that’s blue? It’s all about feeding guys’ fantasies that they aren’t fallible, feeble, fragile little mortals, but… uhm… ‘performance machines’. And these, as everybody knows, aren’t fuelled by frothy strawberry milkshakes topped with chocolate sprinkles, but something more akin to petrol.

Every manchild knows that drinking this...

Every manchild knows that drinking this…

...will turn you into this!

…will turn him into that!

Now the statsy bit. In 2012, nearly 12 million litres of sports drinks were sold globally. To add some context & comparison: cola sales amounted to ten times as much, orange carbonates to just under double, while energy drinks sales came to about half of those of sports drinks.

It's blue, of course

It’s blue, of course

The leading global sports drinks brand (by annual retail value sales,  2012) is Gatorade (by PepsiCo), followed by Powerade and Aquarius (both Coca-Cola-owned brands). In fourth place is Pocari Sweat owned by Japanese company Otsuka Holdings. Only in Asia could you sell a brand with a name like that…

That explains it all...

That explains everything….

In per capita consumption terms, the US leads the league table, guzzling 17.6 litres a head in 2012, followed by Denmark with 13.8 litres, Japan (10.7 litres), Malaysia (8.2 litres), Spain (6 litres) and Peru (5.4 litres) Peru?! The mind boggles.

Among the countries with a surprisingly abstemious consumption are Germany (2.1 litres), Italy (2.4 litres), Switzerland (1.1 litres) and  Mexico at 2.6 litres. The reason Mexico’s low sports drinks intake seems baffling at first glance is that the country has the second-highest global consumption levels of soft drinks in the world (after the US). I have no doubt that this paradox is squarely down to price – sports drinks tend to be premium positioned, meaning that they sell at a much higher price point than standard pop, and so the average Mexican consumer won’t be able to afford to buy this stuff in any great quantity.

Oh, and Austrians downed a paltry 0.4 litres of sports drinks per capita in 2012. That must be due to the fact that this little Alpine nation, aka. home of Red Bull, is totally hooked on Energy drinks, and in that category they lead the global consumption charts. There are only so many chemical cocktails a human body can imbibe without short-circuiting…

For an article on global soft drinks consumption and preferences, click here.

For an article on energy drinks, click here.

[For data source, click here]

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37 thoughts on “Who Consumes The Most Sports Drinks?

  1. Debbie

    Fascinating stuff. M daughter sometimes drinks Aquarius but only because she can’t tolerate fizzy drinks and this is one of the few non-fizzy soft drinks you can find. Better than a bottle of Sweat!

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  2. Anna

    I think we all could have called the US leading the pack. By the way, I read this post while finishing my morning glass of Red Bull >.<

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      1. Anna

        Lol, nothing special – just didn’t feel like making coffee (has to be freshly ground by hand, then boiled on open fire stove in a ‘cezve’), when someone wasn’t around to make it for me. (yes, I know how all this sounds – feel free to shoot me now 🙂 )

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      2. Anna

        Oh good (but I was more concerned about ‘some makes it for me’ part). Basically when I am not force-fed proper nutrition, I live on things like Red Bull, street meat, bread, and light beer. Usually I stick to sugarless RB but it’s sold only in a handful of places in Moscow. Btw, I had no idea it was 1-from Austria and 2-consumed the most by Austrians. Now I know!

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  3. gina4star

    I’ve noticed that here in Mexico sports drinks are also intrinsically linked with being ill (namely with Moctezuma’s revenge). The doctor advises drinking them to keep hydrated. I don’t drink them often (they are more than double the price of regular soft drinks), but without fail whenever I do, people ask me if I’m ill.

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    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      Yes, I’ve heard of that ‘application’ before. I guess that makes sense, especially if it goes on for several days and it’s an elderly person or a child.

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  4. Expat Eye

    On a couple of occasions, orange-flavoured Powerade has put a little pep in my step the morning after the night before! Definitely not its intended audience – hungover Irish girls. And still no sports car 😉

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      1. ladyofthecakes Post author

        There’s nothing out there that’s too crazy for somebody – at least one person in the world! – not to have tried it…
        Scary thought.
        We could set up a blog under that theme, lol.

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      2. Anna

        Hm…I’m not sure a bunch of these would merit that 😉 Sort of…’try even if it seems like a really bad/gross/insane’ idea…

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      3. Expat Eye

        LOL! I’m going with an open mind and a wish to be entertained – but I’ve heard there’s no alcohol this year so it might be difficult!

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  5. TBM

    USA is number one!!!! Oh, wait, you say that’s a bad thing. Well, dang. Personally I can’t stand the stuff. Gives me a belly ache. And I bet Peru is high up on the list because of Machu Picchu–that just sounds hard.

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      1. TBM

        Not sure there is much health benefit chewing coca leaves. I’m mean, we’re talking sports drinks. Sugar water–works for hummingbirds

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  6. welliesandwickets

    Haha, this made me laugh because I actually have a friend who likes to drink Gatorade with her meals (blue especially). Very odd. I only drink sports drinks when I’m hungover. Not really sure why…

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