The beans – originally targeted at sporting goods stores, outdoor pursuits stores, colleges and universities – are now listed in selected Walmart, Walgreens and Target stores, Jelly Belly Candy Company director of communications Tomi Holt told NutraIngredients-USA.
‘Scientifically formulated for sports performance’
She added: “When we first launched them, there really was nothing like them on the market, but since then we’ve seen a lot of other people enter this space.
“As the large retailers have built energy sets in their stores there are more opportunities to grow.”
The beans had been “scientifically formulated for sports performance”, she added. Each of the six flavors is packaged in 100-calorie single serve packs for consumption before, during and after exercise, she said
“Each serving contains 25g of carbohydrates for energy, 120mg of electrolytes [sodium and potassium] to maintain fluid balance, and vitamins [10% of the DV for vitamin C and B vitamins riboflavin, niacin and thiamin] to help burn carbs and fat and protect muscles against oxidative damage.”
An Extreme Sport Bean variant – which includes 50mg of caffeine – has also been introduced to tap into the growing energy-on-the-go market.
‘Many of the sports nutrition products at the time were pretty vile tasting…’
Recently reformulated with natural colors and flavors and sweetened with evaporated cane juice and tapioca syrup instead of corn syrup, the beans are targeted at anyone engaged in exercise lasting for more than an hour from weekend warriors to “cyclists, triathletes, marathon runners and fitness buffs”, said Holt.
“A lot of sports people were buying jelly beans for simple carbs already as they are very portable, you can portion them out and they taste great. So when we introduced sports beans, athletes bought into them immediately.
“They kept saying: But they taste so good. And we were saying – well that’s what we do. Many of the sports nutrition products at the time were pretty vile tasting.”
As effective as a sports drink or gel?
Research from the UC Davis Sports Performance Laboratory demonstrated that eating sports beans improved endurance and sprint performance comparably to sports drinks and carbohydrate gels when compared with plain water, she said.
This also showed the beans improved power output during a sprint and the end of exhausting exercise compared with water (Campbell et al, Carbohydrate-Supplement Form and Exercise Performance. International Journal Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 18:179-190, 2008).