Despite a soft market for soft drinks in the past several years, a report by Mintel says sales of non-alcoholic beverages will have grown 20 percent between 1999 and 2004, reaching $79 billion by the end of this year. The research firm foresees a 24 percent increase between 2004 and 2009, when the market’s size is expected to hit $98.2 billion. Bottled water and sports/ energy drinks are now the fastest-growing segments, with the latter expected to gain by 18.4 percent this year alone. No doubt much of this stuff is consumed by people who actually engage in vigorous physical activity. Still, given the epidemic levels of sedentary behavior in this country, one wonders if sports drinks are the SUVs of the beverage market. Just as people buy off-road vehicles that will never leave the pavement, presumably some consumers buy sports drinks as a gesture toward the energetic life they wish they led—but don’t.
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