Product developers are working to identify an ingredient or com-binations of ingredients that may act in a similar way to caffeine, but in a sustained fashion. With the energy beverage and food category under increased scrutiny by regulators, law-makers and lawyers, there appears to be an opportunity.

One of the more recent ingredient offerings comes from ChromaDex Corp., Irvine, Calif. ChromaDex offers Purenergy, what the company calls a caffeine alternative that is comprised of caffeine and pterostilbene, an antioxidant sourced from blueberries.

In late September, ChromaDex announced the results of a cross-clinical study that compared Purenergy with caffeine. The results of the study, according to the company, show that Purenergy delivers almost 30% more caffeine into the blood than ordinary caffeine. Results also showed the rate of Purenergy absorption into the blood was slower than regular caffeine and allowed subjects to maintain energy levels longer.

ChromaDex indicated that Purenergy’s formula would allow food and beverage makers to replace the total amount of caffeine in their products by as much as 50% without sacrificing consumer expectations.

“The results of our clinical study of Purenergy validate its suitability as an alternative to ordinary caffeine in energy drinks and other energy products,” said Frank Jaksch, chief executive officer of ChromaDex. “Purenergy balances the consumer’s desire to feel the effects of caffeine with the pressure consumer product companies are under to reduce caffeine levels in finished products.”

This past October, DSM Venturing, a business unit of Royal DSM, Heerlen, The Netherlands, made a strategic investment in ChromaDex. The amount of the investment was not publicized, but DSM Venturing said a typical investment from the group often ranges between €500,000 to €5 million ($688,347 to $6.9 million), a 10% to 25% stake in the company and representation on the company’s board.

“We believe the investment demonstrates their confidence in the future of ChromaDex as well as our unique business model of acquiring and commercializing novel ingredient technologies,” Mr. Jaksch said.

Additional energy alternatives

The FRS Co., San Mateo, Calif., manufactures and markets a variety of sustained energy products under the FRS brand. The primary energy ingredient in the products is quercetin, an antioxidant that is found in blueberries, red apples and grapes.

The ingredient belongs to a group of plant pigments called flavonoids that give many fruits and vegetables their color. Quercetin acts in the body as a fuel that mimics the effects of exercise by enhancing the production of the body’s mitochondria, the energy-producing units of cells, according to FRS. The ingredient initially was developed to help cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy fight the fatigue that comes with treatment.

Products in the FRS line include beverages, soft chews, hard chews, concentrates and powders. The company markets its products effects as “fighting fatigue and enhancing performance so that you have as much energy at the end of the day as you did in the beginning.”

Green tea extract is another alternative source of energy found in a variety of energy beverages. The ingredient is often combined with caffeine in many products, but it also may be featured on its own.

Redco Foods Inc., Little Falls, N.Y., recently introduced two Salada Tea varieties featuring green tea extract. Branded Tea Therapy Performance — Energy and Tea Therapy Performance — Metabolism the powder drink mixes feature green tea extract, green coffee bean extract and other ingredients.

“By combining our green tea extract with ingredients such as green coffee bean extract and raspberry ketones, we’ve created drink mixes that can help increase energy and boost metabolism so consumers can get the most out of their workouts or physical activities,” said Larry Baer, senior brand manager for Salada Tea.

The Performance Variety features green tea and green coffee bean extract while the Metabolism variety features green tea and green coffee bean extracts in addition to raspberry ketones, which the company said has been positively associated with weight-loss efforts.

“The new Salada drink mix sticks are great for an athlete or anyone looking to maintain an active metabolism,” said Tara Coleman, Salada Tea consumer spokesperson and clinical nutritionist. “In addition to all the beneficial ingredients, they are low-calorie, low-sodium and gluten-free. Salada continues to provide all-natural goodness.”

While it does not provide the stimulant effect of caffeine, protein has been associated with sustained energy, and companies are working to capitalize on the trend. Designer Whey, a business unit of Designer Protein L.L.C., Los Angeles, for example, markets a Sustained Energy variety the company said is stimulant free and designed to provide consumers with sustained energy through fast absorbing whey protein and slower absorbing soy and casein proteins.