Nuts & Bolts

Up-and-coming sports drinks have departed from the electric-yellow Gatorade formula of sugar, salt and water in favor of making claims of bulked muscles, bulked immune systems and weight loss. If that sounds like a list of functional drink offerings, it is. Some manufacturers have decided that sports drinks these days are better thought about as a subset of the ever-expanding functional drink category. The good news is that those blurred lines could offer retailers increased flexibility in product placement. Sports drinks that offer energy may look as at home next to Red Bull and Monster as they would next to Gatorade.

Protein-enhanced products might fit with dairy or smoothies. Others that offer weight loss or pain control could easily reside next to vitaminwater. Another option is that they could all fit together into a broader sports functionality shelf set – one that lets athletes tailor their beverage choices to their needs. For retailers imagining that sport performance section, the products are there – although the growth in the number of brands doesn’t mean they all work.

“There’s a lot more hype than actual science with a lot of these products,” said Chris Mohr, a sports nutrition consultant and founder of Mohr Results. ”There might be some research, but a lot of it is more theoretical than anything, from what I’ve seen.”That doesn’t mean that Mohr – who’s currently training for the Ironman Triathlon – doesn’t trust any of the new sports drinks on the market. While he said he still favors Gatorade, he has used Accelerade – the Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s entry into the sports drink segment.

Accelerade takes a twist on rehydration by including a nine-gram dose of protein to help muscles recover during exercise. And while Mohr said the chief job of any sports drink should be rehydration, it’s hard to question the approach of other protein-toting entries. These new RTDs merely emulate the precedence set by by giant canisters of chalky protein powders. CytoSport – who has long sold powders at GNC – recently introduced a seven flavor RTD line of Muscle Milk that contains 21 grams of protein per serving. Another RTD has a different twist on the pre-workout protein binge.

Beverage newcomer Erik Rothchild packed 20 grams of protein into his Whey UP drink to satisfy the nutritional needs of his fellow bench-pressing fiends, but he also added taurine and B-vitamins to help them get out of the house in the morning. “You’re getting your protein and your energy at the same time, and that’s what makes WheyUP unique,” Rothchild said. And he’s not the only beverage hawker using energy to target athletes. FRS – which stands for Free Radical Scavenger – built their entire brand on “healthy energy.” The product includes a substance called quercetin that the company claims will extend the body’s natural adrenaline. FRS President and CEO Maigread Eichten said that leads to “a calm sort of natural energy,” and the buzz around the brew attracted the world’s best-loved bicyclist, Lance Armstrong, to join the company’s board. But Eichten won’t call FRS a sports drink.

The product drifts into functional territory when it promises to strengthen your immune system and kick-start your metabolism, and its core claim and the drink’s slim-can packaging might make it seem more at home next to Monster and Red Bull. And while the product was originally formulated for athletes, Eichten said that function shouldn’t be limited to gym-goers. “I may not be this super athlete, but I need some energy too,” Eichten said.

While FRS’s marketing team may be trying brute force to expand its audience beyond the physically-inclined, mix1 has picked up the athletic crowd almost by accident. Todd Berg, vice president of marketing for mix1, said his company developed the drink as a meal replacement for busy professionals. The drink combines a curious mix of protein, juice and – of all things – olive oil to give you the same nutrition a sensible lunch might. “It’s really just solid balanced nutrition,” Berg said.As it turns out, that blend makes mix1 a good pre- or post-workout drink. Berg said personal trainers have recommended the drink to their clients so they don’t erase the gains made at the gym by wolfing down a fast food burger after they leave.

Berg said a significant portion of the company’s business stems from these kinds of purchases, leaving the product with one foot in a category it wasn’t intended for. But industry watchers shouldn’t be surprised by sports drink newcomers blurring category lines; they’re just following the example set by Gatorade. While the lightning bolt may have cut its teeth on the football field and rocketed up the sales charts in a cascade of cooler showers and Jordan dunks, grocery store clerks have watched obviously non-athletic customers buy cases of the drink for at least a decade.

That left Gatorade as an unexpected target of the recent backlash against high-fructose corn syrup, which prompted Pepsi to produce the low-calorie G2. Coca-Cola responded with Powerade Zero, and while both products use spokesmen to maintain an athletic sheen – G2 featured Derek Jeter in a commercial and tennis star Venus William has just signed on to promote Powerade Zero – Mohr said he wouldn’t suggest athletes drink either while working out. “They’re not marketed toward the athlete per se,” he said.

“They’re marketed toward the ‘desk jockey.’” Athletes need calories. Desk jockeys don’t, and Gatorade’s reformulation signals a clear reach for the mainstream consumer. The new product, backed by a Super Bowl commercial, led to a sales bump for the sports drink line, but that and Gatorade Tiger – backed by Tiger Woods and featuring 25 percent more electrolytes than the regular formula – signal that Pepsi isn’t adding any new functionality for athletes. And while Morgan Stanly Research Analyst Bill Pecoriello said those two brand extensions have helped Gatorade protect its market share, that conservative approach opens the door for small companies to hook these niche consumers. Gatorade may continue to be unbeatable in head-on competition, but now newcomers can carve off their own piece of the cooler by offering athletes more than rehydration. BRAND NEWS

Sportsdrink+ Bodily Fluids

Hazardous Fluids soft-launched Sportsdrink + Bodily Fluids in February 2008 as a new generation sports drink, offering hydration plus a range of innovative supplements. Designed in Australia and produced locally in the U.S.A, Sportsdrink+ specifically caters for athletes seeking an extra edge. Parent company, Hazardous Fluids has been swamped with inquiries from sportspeople, their management and now the public prompting a move into retail in the U.S.A.

Isotonic and caffeine free, Sportsdrink+ delivers powerful nutrients and not artificial energy. Formulated as a gender-neutral product Sportsdrink+ aims to support and enhance the body’s natural engineering system and promote optimal human function.

mix1

mix1, an all-natural protein and antioxidant drink, has launched its fifth and newest flavor –Tangerine. Available in an 11-ounce bottle, mix1 Tangerine joins existing mix1 flavors Mango, Blueberry-Vanilla, Lime and Mix Berry. mix1 is an optimal blend of carbohydrates, proteins and nutrients to provide balance and sustained energy throughout the day. Each serving of mix1 contains: 15 grams of premium whey protein isolate, 23 vitamins and minerals, 3 servings of fruits/veggies, antioxidants equal to four cups of green tea, no lactose, no gluten, no soy and no caffeine.

WheyUP

WheyUP is the first drink on the market to combine 20 grams of whey protein with an energy formula in a sugar-free, non-carbonated beverage. The brand is targeted toward health-conscience individuals and fitness enthusiasts. It is ideal for low-fat and low-carb diets, exercise programs, weight-training programs, athletic activities, and as part of a healthy, active lifestyle.

WheyUP has made inroads into the sports community. WheyUP is the “official sports drink” of the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League and Jeff Nygaard of the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour. For more information, visit www.wheyup.com

CRAYONS Sports Drinks

Crayons Sports Drinks are the first all-natural and HFCS free line of sports drinks designed specifically for active kids. These products are 50 calories per serving and are loaded with the essential vitamins and electrolytes that kids need to stay hydrated during exercise. Crayons Sport Drinks use organic evaporated cane juice and less sodium than other leading brands of sports drinks, and contain nothing artificial.

ZICO Coconut Water

ZICO coconut water is a natural alternative to sports drinks. Made with 100 percent pure coconut water – which for more than 4,000 years has been a natural source of nutrition, hydration, wellness and beauty – ZICO has more potassium than a banana and five essential electrolytes in one serving. It also helps to increase blood volume. As increased blood volume helps the body replenish, avoid muscle cramps, maximize heart output and improve endurance, ZICO is the ideal choice for full body rehydration following exercise induced dehydration.

Function: Shock Sports

Shock Sports has a rapid re-hydration system and also employs Devil’s Claw extract, an all-natural anti-inflammatory that aids in muscle and joint recovery. Currently Function is re-launching Shock Sports into the market in new proprietary bottles and label designs.

This year Function is working with its strategic partner, PUMA, to support athletes across the country through four major marathons (Los Angeles, Boston, New York, and Chicago), six golf tournaments, and eight large (3,200 – 5,000 players) soccer tournaments.

LIV Organic

LIV Organic is USDA certified organic. It contains the ideal balance of carbohydrates and minerals without any of the unhealthy ingredients found in traditional sports drinks. LIV Organic tastes great and is ideal for active adults and kids. LIV delivers on a straightforward promise of great taste and recovery. No fussy ingredients consumers have never heard of, or unsubstantiated health claims.

LIV Organic comes in four flavors – Lemon, Berry, Citrus Passion and Orange and is flavored with organic juices. LIV Organic is sweetened with Agave nectar, a highly unprocessed, low glycemic sweetener.