Fluorescent colored, sugar laden beverages are typically what come to mind at the mention of a “sports drink”. Marketed as electrolyte replenishments for active lifestyles, big players like Gatorade and Powerade have dominated the category for the majority of the time that sports drinks have been on the market. The consumer demand for organic, “cleaner” options has started opening up this category in some interesting ways.
To keep up with the movement, Gatorade started offering an organic line, pared down to just 7 ingredients. While it may appeal to some consumers in their audience looking to go organic, Gatorade has drawn some criticism with their G Organic line of drinks for its high sugar content, with each 16.9-ounce bottle of G Organic carrying a whopping seven teaspoons of added sugar – more than the six-teaspoon daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association (New York Times). This is by no means the only organic sports drink option available today; this space is opening up for healthier options with more natural ingredients.
LIV Organic seems like a Gatorade alternative, using brown rice sugar and agave nectar for sweetener, among other organic ingredients. It retains the well known structure of a sports drink – the ribbed bottle for easy gripping, and a colorful shrink sleeve. For a consumer looking to make a transition from conventional to organic, this is a friendly and recognizable way of marketing.
1051 at first glance seems to competing in the vitamin water space. However, the brand is focused on hydration and performance. Born in a Southern California organic cafe, the “electrolyte and mineral infusions” promises low sugar content and is marketed toward healthy lifestyles.
While water may be the best “sports drink” around, coconut water is bringing a lot to the table with its promise of natural hydration and electrolyte replenishment. We’ve seen different brands of coconut water increasingly grow in the beverage space throughout recent years, but now more of them are being positioned as sports drinks. This is opening up new opportunities for some less conventional structures, moving away from that recognizable plastic bottle we’ve come to associate with sports drinks. Greater Than and Nooma are both breaking ground in the category with the use of Tetra Paks, an environmentally friendly form of packaging that we’re seeing pop up a lot more in shelf stable liquid options.
The sports drinks we’ve become familiar with throughout our lives are facing some game changers that are bringing to question what truly makes a great beverage for those looking to recover from a work out. As we continue to see in the food and beverage industry as a whole, added sugar is out and natural is in. Now, it’s a question of what ingredient will overtake coconut water as the next replenishing ingredient for natural and organic sports drinks.