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The neurobiology and marketing of mood drinks


Foodscape Group, 360 West Illinois, #101 Chicago, 60654 Illinois, USA
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Tufts University, Friedman School of Nutrition, Boston, MA, USA


Consumers are increasingly over-worked, under-rested and often experiencing high levels of daily stress. Combine this with the need for mobility and convenience, and the concept of mood-modulating beverages becomes an appealing proposition for formulators and marketers alike. Historically, the focus has been more on the energy-producing “stimulant” side with tea or coffee drinks providing caffeine. However, there is increasing interest in the “relaxant” side of the equation in terms of beverage ingredients than can offer a calming effect. Unfortunately, there is often limited published data on the safety and/or efficacy of these ingredients in beverage formulations specifically, especially when used in multi-ingredient formulations. This article will focus first briefly on caffeine and then on a select handful of “relaxant” ingredients commonly chosen for mood beverages marketed in the United States as dietary supplements.


To date, much of the mood beverage market has focused on caffeine in the form of tea, coffee and increasingly in the category of “energy drinks.” This category is projected to grow to a value of $21.5 billion by 2017 with the target consumer being males aged 18 to 34 years (1). The category growth continues, often in double digits year over year, despite it becoming increasingly challenged with lawsuits in the United States, especially within the context of caffeine intake and children. Many energy drinks though actually have less caffeine than some standard coffee drinks like those purchased at common coffee house chains. Either way, the amount of acceptable daily caffeine intake for different age groups remains a hotly debated topic.
The “relaxing” mood beverages market is thought to be closer to $32 million in the United States, which is a mere fraction of the “energizing” side. This market imbalance is likely the result of a few factors. First, more consumers are familiar and comfortable with caffeine and the idea of a daily stimulant beverage, especially in the morning to wake up with and start the day. On the oth ...

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