- PepsiCo is launching three USDA-certified organic varieties of its popular sports drink brand Gatorade, called G Organic.
- The company spent two years researching the natural and organic ingredients switch as the brand faced pressure from competing beverages.
- PepsiCo already rolled out G Organic at some Kroger stores with further penetration in select grocery, natural and convenience stores planned for the next few weeks.
Gatorade currently controls about 70% of the sports drink market, but the fast growth of demand for natural and organic products threatens even its dominance. The brand faces competition from startups making sports drinks with natural, simper ingredients and from beverage categories quickly growing in popularity, such as coconut and aloe water.
PepsiCo's decision came just in time, as Coca-Cola recently launched Honest Sport, a line of organic sports drinks under its Honest Tea brand. Coca-Cola also owns Powerade, Gatorade's top competitor, but Honest Sport offers a debut into the organic sports drink market.
PepsiCo originally announced a 2017 launch deadline for G Organic but beat the deadline with an earlier rollout to Kroger stores. Coca-Cola's Honest Sport launch in June may have put pressure on PepsiCo to work faster to finish its formulation and prepare for a nationwide release. The new formulation included finding certified organic replacements for artificial ingredients contained in the original recipe. The company also needed a more refined manufacturing process, all of which the USDA oversaw.
The question now is how consumers will respond to the new Gatorade line. PepsiCo had a misstep last year when it launched Diet Pepsi without aspartame. Consumers didn't like the taste of the new sweetener and took to social media to demand the original recipe's return. PepsiCo ended up reintroducing the original aspartame recipe as Diet Pepsi Classic Sweetener Blend while keeping the new reformulated recipe under the original Diet Pepsi name.
This time around, the scenario differs: G Organic is an entirely new line, but the original Gatorade recipe stays the same. With the Diet Pepsi snafu, consumers could only buy the reformulated version before PepsiCo introduced the classic sweetener variety. Here, consumers can still buy traditional Gatorade, so if they don't like the reformulated recipe's flavor, they have other options. That lessens the likelihood of a similar massive backlash for Pepsi.