DSM Food Specialties has established a scientific advisory board to target potential new applications for the company's protein ingredient PeptoPro.
The firm hopes to expand the use of the product on a global basis by tapping into the incredible demand within the burgeoning energy drinks market.
PeptoPro contains casein fragments that stimulate insulin release in the body, which DSM claims allows glucose to be absorbed faster from the blood into the muscle cells. The development of such peptides and easily digestible protein sources has created significant opportunities for manufacturers of sports drinks, hydration products and the sports supplement category as a whole.
The idea is that a scientific will provide DSM with valuable market information to help develop these products - and push sports and energy drinks further into the mainstream.
The scientific advisory board (SAB) will be chaired by Jose Antonio, chief executive officer of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
"The creation of the SAB is an excellent idea and reflects DSM's recognition that only through scientifically-based products, can they fulfil the sports nutrition needs of fitness-oriented consumers," said Antonio.
"We are excited by the opportunity to work with DSM to investigate the role of PeptoPro in sports drinks, hydration and other sports nutrition ideas. The poor taste and texture of previous generations of hydrolysates has meant that their role and performance has been poorly studied to date."
However, new innovations in this field - and clever marketing - have transformed the energy drinks sector from a niche market into a highly lucrative segment. According to a recent survey from Mintel, energy drinks will account for £1 out of every £5 spent by Britons on soft drinks this year.
What's more, sales of energy and stimulant drinks are set to pass the £1 billion (€1.46bn) barrier this year, driven by hectic lifestyles and changing tastes. Speaking at last week's FiE show in Paris, Datamonitor analyst Piers Berezai said that consumers are willing to experiment with products that offer new flavours and experiences.
However, Berezai also noted that trust forms an increasingly important part of the relationship between customer and manufacturer. "Any health claim needs to be clear and consumers must buy into it," he said.