Gatorade Launches Organic Varieties

August 31, 2016

Food Business News | August 31, 2016 – G Organic, a line of U.S.D.A. certified organic Gatorade brand sports drinks, is debuting this fall from PepsiCo, Inc. Available in lemon, strawberry and mixed berry varieties, the beverages contain seven ingredients, which include water, organic cane sugar, citric acid, organic natural flavor, sea salt, sodium citrate and potassium chloride.

G Organic provides the same levels of carbohydrates and electrolytes as Gatorade Thirst Quencher with 120 calories per 16.9-oz bottle. The drinks will be available nationwide in select grocery, natural and convenience stores and on-line for a suggested retail price of $1.69.

The product was formulated for athletes seeking an organic hydration and fueling solution.

“Recently, there has been a growing demand in the marketplace for organic certified foods and beverages, and that includes what we’re hearing from some of our athletes in the locker rooms,” said Brett O’Brien, senior vice-president and general manager of Gatorade. “Gatorade is proud of our 50-year history of working with athletes and creating products that meet their evolving needs. G Organic is meant for the athlete that is looking for the same fueling benefits as Gatorade Thirst Quencher in a product that is organically certified, from a company that they’ve known and trusted for more than 50 years.”

Demand for organic food and beverage products continues to grow at a double-digit rate in the United States, with sales reaching $39.7 billion last year, according to the Organic Trade Association. This has spurred several major food and beverage companies to introduce organic versions of iconic brands. Recent examples include Capri Sun Organic juice beverages from the Kraft Heinz Co. and Jelly Belly Organic jelly beans. Research from the Hartman Group, Inc. shows more than a third of consumers (37% of participants in a survey of 1,728 U.S. adults) believe organic food is more nutritious than conventional food. The figure skews higher for parents of young children, 44% of whom view organic food as more nutritious.

“Organic is not only here to stay but is going to continue to steadily grow for a long time,” said Carl Jorgensen, director, Global Consumer Strategy-Wellness, Daymon Worldwide, speaking to Food Business News in April. “In terms of consumer acceptance and trust in organic, it seems to be growing year by year. Everybody is going to want to try to get on the organic bandwagon in one form or another. And some of those attempts will be very successful, and some will be less successful.”

Gatorade was developed in 1965 by Robert Cade, PhD., a professor at the University of Florida, to help hydrate Gator football players during practices and games. The drink initially was delivered in cups on the sidelines of games or in milk cartons. In 1967, Stokely-Van Camp acquired the rights to commercially distribute it and sold it in metal cans and later glass bottles when the salts in the drink ate through the metal and created leaks. The 64-oz plastic bottle debuted in 1989 and has transformed over the years with various shapes and sizes. PepsiCo acquired Gatorade in 2001 as part of its $13.4 billion acquisition of Quaker Oats.

Gatorade and its brand extensions, which include Frost, G2, Fierce and X-Factor, hold a nearly 78% market share in the non-aseptic sports drinks category, according to Information Resources, Inc. The brand’s biggest rival, the Coca-Cola Co.’s Powerade, holds about 20%, by comparison. However, conventional sports drink sales have been threatened recently by alternatives perceived as more natural, such as bottled coconut water and maple water.

Whether G Organic is the clean label solution sports drink consumers are seeking remains to be seen. Mr. Jorgensen of Daymon Worldwide expressed doubts in the success of the product.

“For something like Gatorade, it’s never really had an appeal to customers who are looking for cleaner products and a healthier lifestyle,” Mr. Jorgensen said. “Why all of a sudden will that brand appeal to them?… In many cases, the solution is not to take a brand that has no equity at all with the healthier eating consumer and try to make it healthy.”

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