Coffee doesn’t appear to be cutting it these days.
A growing thirst for caffeinated “energy” drinks, which include the likes of Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar, has spurred a heart-thumping surge in sales. Globally, the energy drink industry has gone from a $3.8-billion business in 1999, to a $27.5-billion business last year, according to data from market research firm Euromonitor. That’s a more than 620% jump.
But no one is crazier about the bubbly—and potentially dangerous—caffeine-packed cans than Americans. In the US, energy drink sales have grown by more than 5000% since 1999.
While the energy drink industry was much smaller circa 2000, it wasn’t non-existent—the market raked in more than $350 million that year. Caffeinated sodas, like Jolt Cola, have existed for years. But the introduction of Red Bull in 1997, and the many other energy drinks that followed in its footsteps, have helped turn the industry from a big one into an enormous one.
The rise of Red Bull and Monster, which accounted for nearly 80% of US energy drink sales last year, is such that the energy drink category now legitimately rivals our old-fashioned caffeine delivery system—coffee. In 1999, coffee sales in the US outpaced energy drink sales by a factor of nearly 36 to 1. This past year, coffee sales came in at just above $12 billion in the US, while energy drink sales were just below $9 billion—a gap of less than 1.5 to 1.
It’s not unreasonable to expect the two to eventually overlap. Over the next five years, energy drink sales are slated to continue growing at about twice the rate of coffee sales, according to Euromonitor.