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Energy Drinks & Energy Shots

EDITORIAL – THIS ARTICLE IS THE OPINION OF THE AUTHOR

“U.S. probes deaths for links to Monster energy drink” was a headline on October 23, 2012 in the Chicago Tribune business section, which is testament to what is most important to most U.S. investors and readers since it was a BUSINESS headline.

The fact that the recent death of a 14 year old girl was attributed to Monster beverages was apparently less important than the stock price for the company.

Does that appear to sound callous and harsh?

Well, maybe it is, and if the investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) into energy drinks as a cause of more than 5 deaths uncovers major issues (http://www.webmd.com/news/20121023/death-reports-monster-energy-drink), then maybe we could get warnings most will not read put on the side of the containers or adjust the legal drinking age for the energy drink market to only allow adults to play energy drink roulette.

Either way, it will take time, resulting in many more ER visits and possibly additional deaths, before the FDA rules in favor of the industry or in favor of those experiencing health issues; with death being the most drastic health issue of all that a person can experience.

Energy drinks and energy shots have become a multi-billion dollar industry.

From Red Bull to Rockstar, they are the drink of choice for a quick boost of energy when you need it.

Fill the caffeinated beverages with sugar for sweet flavor and vitamins and ginseng for those needing to justify the drinks as part of their faux nutritional vitamin rich diet, and you have marketing magic.

Using this marketing idea from the beverage industry, we could make sure more people are getting inoculated for the flu by adding the flu vaccine to their favorite beer!

Innovative consumers has also discovered that some of these beverages can be mixed with alcohol for interesting flavors and a different type of “rush”.

The energy drink manufacturers discourage such experimentation, but not enough to stop making the products.

I recently walked into a convenience store to see a pink display with the telltale pink ribbon icon whose focus was selling product for breast cancer awareness.

The breast cancer awareness marketing people should be commended for their work and the ingenious ways they market the program and awareness to raise money for breast cancer research.

My problem was that the product that was doing the awareness and fundraising was 5-hour Energy.

Little pink bottles of 5-hour Energy shots that will result in the company donating money for each of the little addictive bottles of over caffeinated B vitamin elixir purchased.

The good news is that the little energy shots are low calorie, that bad news is, like most energy drink products, they are high in caffeine.

Women who are pregnant and small children should not use this product, so why did it pass muster with the Breast Cancer Society?

That is because 5 hour Energy, as the market leader holds almost $1 billion in sales dollars of the market and is a potentially large fundraising money maker.

To heck with the other possible health issues , after all, we are after breast cancer here!

Drink markets are high volume, high profit businesses that traditionally spend more on packaging than the product that is inside the can, or bottle.

People dismiss the influence of beverages as major contributors to dietary problems, but they do contribute to obesity and a wide variety of potential health issues.

Marketing and beverage companies have discovered that the consumer has no problem paying $1.99 for a 16 oz Monster drink (which equals about $15.92 per gallon) but scoffs and complains at paying $4.00 a gallon for gasoline, a fossil fuel.

If we have found, in our pockets, the makings of a growing $5 billion dollar industry based on drinks that provide the quick fix illusion of increased energy and stamina for our busy days, maybe we should just use that money to eat better, exercise, and get a bit more rest.

About The Author

Jon Searles

Food Science and Technology

Jon Searles is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a Bachelors of Science in Food Science and Technology.

Jon held management positions in the food industry for over 26 years. His experience includes overseeing construction of new production facilities, remodeling of existing facilities, and expanding capabilities of companies in the food industry. He has extensive experience in food packaging and machinery as well as government regulations and food industry standards.

Recently, he co-owned and operated a successful New England bakery operation which sold in 2011.

Over the years Jon has helped to develop and promote new products in the food industry. Jon currently assists small food manufacturers and start-ups that need assistance with issues as they relate to food manufacturing.