Leftovers is our look at a few of the product ideas popping up everywhere. Some are intriguing, some sound amazing and some are the kinds of ideas we would never dream of. We can't write about everything that we get pitched, so here are some leftovers pulled from our inboxes.
Gatorade Fit is here to pump (clap)... you up
Gatorade has been a dominant force in the sports drink space, but even decades after it was first launched, the brand is finding a way to add a little muscle to keep it competitive with changing consumer trends.
The PepsiCo-owned brand is launching Gatorade Fit with no added sugar, artificial flavors or sweeteners, or added colors. It has 100% of the daily value of antioxidant vitamins A and C, as well as electrolytes sourced from watermelon and sea salt, according to the company.
Reaching shelves this month, Gatorade Fit comes in five flavors: Tropical Mango, Watermelon Strawberry, Citrus Berry, Cherry Lime and Tangerine Orange. Gatorade Fit was developed for consumers with active lifestyles who prefer hydration options with no artificial sweeteners or added sugar, according to the brand.
“Nobody knows athletes like Gatorade, and as their needs evolve, so do our offerings,” Carolyn Braff, head of brand strategy at Gatorade, said in an email. “Gatorade is continuously expanding upon what it means to be an athlete, and we address all athletes’ and exercisers’ needs and ingredient preferences through our evolving product portfolio.”
Gatorade Fit is the latest better-for-you offering under the Gatorade umbrella that includes: Gatorlyte for rapid rehydration that has a five-electrolyte blend, lower sugar and no artificial flavors or sweeteners; G Zero, which contains all the electrolytes of Gatorade Thirst Quencher, but with zero sugar; and G Zero with Protein.
Consumers are increasingly turning to foods and beverages for functional benefits in addition to their ability to provide sustenance and hydration. Gatorade, founded by a group of doctors at the University of Florida in 1965, is far and away the dominant force in the $8.2 billion sports drink space in the U.S., with just under 70% market share.
But Gatorade is feeling pressure from Coca-Cola and its fast-growing BodyArmor line that has caught on with consumers through its use of coconut water, low sodium and high potassium levels, the absence of artificial colors and the use of sugar in place of high fructose corn syrup.
Last year, Coca-Cola spent $5.6 billion to purchase the remaining 85% stake it didn't already own in BodyArmor, the largest acquisition ever for the beverage giant. Coca-Cola said at the time that BodyArmor was the second-biggest sports drink in the retail channel behind Gatorade, with sales of more than $1.4 billion and posting growth of about 50%.
— Christopher Doering
Impossible Foods uses plant-based nuggets to build knowledge
When is playing with your food a lesson in global warming? Impossible Foods created such an occasion, teaching the youngest consumer set about species that are endangered as the world’s temperature ticks up with its Wild Nuggies.
Wild Nuggies are Impossible’s take on shapes for chicken nuggets. But instead of being shaped like dinosaurs or Mickey Mouse, these plant-based nuggets look like animals that are vulnerable to climate change: the black rhino, Galapagos tortoise, polar bear and right whale.
“Our goal is to spark a conversation at the dinner table about how our food choices impact our planet, and how eating plant-based is the best way for kids to help combat the urgent threat of climate change and nature loss,” Laura Kliman, Impossible’s director of new product development, said in a written statement. “With our latest products, we’re showing kids and consumers that they can still have everything they love about meat, but without needing to consume any dead animals.”
Taste and nutrition-wise, these frozen plant-based nuggets are identical to Impossible Chicken Nuggets Made from Plants, which launched last year.
As a company, Impossible Foods has always been very forward with its message that it feels the best way to help save the planet is to stop eating meat. Founder and CEO Pat Brown has said the company’s goal is to eliminate the need for animal agriculture by 2035.
This isn’t the first time Impossible Foods has taken its messaging to younger consumers. Last year, the company targeted teen consumers with a multipronged approach. It had a teen-focused online campaign about how to talk to parents about meat’s impact on climate change. The company also published research on what kids know about global warming and what they want to do about it. Over the summer, Impossible Foods also received a Child Nutrition Label from the USDA, which paved the way for its products to be more easily included in school cafeteria meals.
The new Wild Nuggies give parents of younger kids a window to talk to them about global warming and endangered species at the dinner table — with a finger-sized visual aid to keep their attention. And while this conversation might actually get some information about such a serious topic through to children, the animal shapes coupled with kids’ common reluctance to eat their dinners might make for another awkward conversation: “Yes, we want to save the polar bears, but I want you to eat the one on your plate.”
— Megan Poinski
Birch Benders takes a bite out of the cookie market
Birch Benders has made a name for itself with the top selling pancake and waffle mix in the natural channel. Now it’s taking aim at cookies, with a similar offering geared toward consumers who want to indulge but feel better about it when they do.
The new keto-friendly cookies contain no added sugar and have less than five net carbohydrates per serving. They are available at retailers including Kroger, Walmart and Target, and come in four flavors: Chocolate Chip, Double Chocolate Chip, Snickerdoodle and Vanilla Shortbread.
“The snack aisle is full of empty carbs and excess sugar, which leaves consumers with few options for delicious, satisfying, feel-good snacks and treats,” Lucy Rand, general manager at Birch Benders, said in a statement. “With Birch Benders Cookies, people can enjoy their cookies and feel good about them too!”
Birch Benders is owned by Sovos Brands, the fast-growing food company that launched its IPO last year, valuing the young firm at more than $1.3 billion.
The expansion of Birch Benders from waffles and pancakes into cookies takes a page from the Sovos playbook, in which the company brings the attributes tied to a brand into a closely related category ripe for disruption. For example, Sovos has expanded its Rao's brand from sauces into dry pasta, frozen entrees and soups.
Sovos said last year around the the time of its IPO that Birch Benders was among the fastest-growing brands in the pancake and waffle mix categories. During its third quarter, net sales for the brand totaled $14 million. Cookies are a $9 billion segment, according to the company.
Similar to the strategy Sovos has employed with Rao's, Birch Benders has also entered baking mixes and frostings. Ready-to-eat baked goods, refrigerated baking and even spoonable yogurt other potential avenues for future expansion.
Sovos CFO Chris Hall said in November that Birch Benders is “finding good success” in frozen waffles and baking mixes, “demonstrating the brand's ability to travel to new categories.”
— Christopher Doering