There is a new version of Gatorade that has been certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, testing whether or not a product that has been created in a lab using artificial flavors and coloring can change with the growing "natural food" movement. It has take two years of research and a lot of testing, but strawberry, lemon, and mixed berry G Organic will soon by on the shelves in some Kroger supermarkets, according to Brett O'Brien, Gatorade's senior vice president and general manager. It will show up over the next few weeks with a retail price of $1.69 for a 16.9-ounce bottle, 50 cents more than the nonorganic version.
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Gatorade controls about 70% of the sports-drink market, but they are facing problems with people who are concerned about ingredients who are switching over to things like coconut water.
“We heard pretty loud through the locker rooms, through our work with nutritionists, that there is an interest and a desire among athletes to go organic,” O'Brien said. “Somewhere around 10 to 12 percent of athletes are saying they're interested in purchasing organic products.”
In order to be considered (and labelled) organic, Gatorade had to lose the artificial ingredients and PepsiCo had to change manufacturing to steps approved by the USDA.
PepsiCo recently faced problems after they switch sweeteners in Diet Pepsi - and they had to switch back soon after. Still, they are hopeful about this new seven-ingredient drink.
“Inasmuch as they can focus on the potential to change ingredients without changing the taste, that's sort of a win-win,” said Adam Fleck, a beverage analyst at Morningstar Inc. “But you have to be very careful about alienating your current customers in a bid to attract lapsed customers or new customers.”
“While sports drinks are still the Michael Phelps of mass hydration, young upstarts like coconut water are taking advantage of health and wellness trends to make a run at the champion,” Duane Stanford, editor-in-chief of Beverage Digest, wrote in an email to Trib Live.
G Organic will only be sold in individual bottles instead of packs. It has 120 calories per serving, just like the traditional version.
“We're just trying to get people familiar with the product, what it means, what it does, and try it,” he said. “Once we've checked those boxes, we've got a big opportunity here.”