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Hungarians are consuming more energy drinks than ever

Hungarians' addiction to energy and sports drinks has grown further, the latest figures from the Nielsen Retail Index show. Retail sales in the segment were more than HUF 11 billion in the ten-month period through September 2010, up 11% in value and 17% in volume terms from the year before. Most of the turnover came from energy drinks, as sports drink sales were less than HUF 300 million. Average consumer prices decreased: for one liter of energy drink we paid a price of HUF 501 weighted with volume sales, down from HUF 527.

The sales figures show a trend that runs counter to the general phenomenon in the food retail sector, as the role of small shops is bigger, and this tendency is growing. While of all the other food types, 35% were sold in shops smaller than 400 sqm in the December 2009–September 2010 period, the figure for energy and sports drinks was 41%.

Meanwhile, the share of commercial brands has decreased, from 36% last year to 29%, but regions are leveling out, with the south-eastern and north-eastern regions consuming more of these drinks. The central region with Budapest, where 28% of the population lives, consumed 35% of the total in value terms in the given period.

Hungary is not only good in drinking liquid energy, but will also be in producing it. Miskolc-based energy drink maker Hell Energy Kft is relocating its HUF 1.1 billion bottling plant and logistics base to Szikszó, two years after the owners decided to move production abroad. Production is expected to start in March and reach the largest bottling capacity in Hungary: 48,000 units an hour on the metal-can production line and 18,000 an hour on the PET bottle line.

Besides being a business success, many people tend to forget about the dark side of consuming taurine-based drinks. Energy drinks contain more caffeine than a simple coffee: 70–200 mg, as opposed to 40–150 mg for a strong coffee. It's even more worrying that ingredients like guarana, taurine, herbs, minerals and some vitamins can interact with caffeine, influencing heart rhythm, blood pressure and even mental state, especially if consumed in larger portions or combined with alcohol. (Anikó Jóri-Molnár)