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Sports Drinks

August 14, 2016

I got started on this topic because of an article in the Washington Post.  It was reprinted in the National Post, where I read it.  I must say that I agree with much of what the author had to say in the article.  Certainly, elite athletes, the ones who do hard physical work and sweat profusely, are a very small market.  Certainly, the companies are selling their product into a wider market.  Certainly, they add sugar, flavour, and colour to appeal to this market.  In particular, they bring the sweetness of their sports drinks up to the optimum level to make them most appealing to their customers.  People who are not elite athletes could get what they need by drinking plain water, instead of the sports drinks.

I do have doubts about some parts of the article.  As far as I know, the idea that artificial sweeteners are harmful to your health is only a suggestion right now, with no scientific evidence to back it up.  Similarly, the idea that natural products are healthy and artificial products are unhealthy may turn out to be a false idea, even though many people seem to believe it.  Of course, natural is now a marketing term too.

The factual information contained in this article makes me wonder how companies can make money selling sports drinks.  I suppose, in the wider market, they are just another beverage, like carbonated drinks, like fruit juice.  Companies must use marketing to create demand for their products, although they must also be sensitive to what their customers really want.  They have to compete with other companies who are selling similar products.  In this sort of market, it’s the product that’s most appealing to customers that wins the most market share.

That necessity explains why all of these beverages contain large amounts of sugar, or the equivalent in artificial sweetener.  One company is not going to reduce the sweetness of their products because they will lose their popularity with their customers.  No doubt we all know that sugar is the new culprit in obesity.  In this respect, beverage companies are similar to tobacco companies, although the effects of sugar consumption are not as bad as those of tobacco consumption.  Maybe it will take government regulation to make sports drinks less sweet.

Still, how can the companies make a profit without taking a toll on our health.  Their traditional way was through advertizing and high sweetness levels.  They claim that they can’t make a profit selling water.  There’s nothing in water but water.  All water is essentially the same.  Water is what we need, but there’s no profit in it.  I don’t see a future for the beverage companies, at least in North America.


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