Dr Pepper Snapple announces first major Reb A-sweetened sports drink

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Stevia, Sugar substitute, Pepsico

Reb A is moving into the sports drink market as Dr Pepper Snapple becomes the first of the big three soft drinks manufacturers to release a zero-calorie sports drink sweetened with Reb A, the natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the stevia plant.

Dr Pepper Snapple Group has teamed with All Sport to produce All Sport Naturally Zero, which follows announcements by the two leading soft drinks manufacturers, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, that they would release drinks containing Reb A – also known as rebaudioside A or rebiana – following the FDA’s non-objection that the sweetener is generally recognized as safe in December.

Spokesperson for All Sport Jason Genthner told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “Being the first naturally sweetened zero-calorie sports drink allowed us to differentiate from the competition. All Sport Naturally Zero is a unique sports drink formulated with electrolytes and B vitamins that allows for hydration and replenishment without the calories.”

Sports drinks market growth

Drinks marketed as meeting demands for stimulation and active lifestyles have become increasingly popular with consumers, and the sports drink market has shown strong growth in recent years. According to Mintel, sales growth by value stood at 10.3 percent in 2007. That year the market researcher valued the market at $1,624m, and it estimates that up to 2012, growth will continue at an average of 8.5 percent a year.

However, there are still relatively few low and zero-calorie sports drinks available. One of these is Powerade, manufactured by Coca-Cola, which released a zero calorie version last month – artificially sweetened with sucralose and acesulfame potassium – saying that it was targeting sub-segments within the sport drink market.

Powerade’s senior brand manager Frank Bracken told sister publication BeverageDaily.com at the time that one such segment was the consumer seeking an energy boost, while not worrying about potential impacts on their weight.

He said that for this consumer, “the traditional proposition of a sports drink with carbohydrates (calories) is counterproductive. By providing zero-calorie hydration with the benefit of electrolytes and B-vitamins – you really hit on a true consumer need that the category has previously not served.”

No longer niche

Bracken suggested that the sports drink market was no longer a niche consumer area, a development he claims has opened up the market to a much wider scope for product innovation.

All Sport’s Genthner said that its new drink is also intended to target ordinary Americans who are “looking to get the most out of their workouts”​ but offers a natural zero-calorie way to rehydrate during exercise.

Although he would not comment on which company was supplying Reb A for the sports drink, Peter Milsted, executive sales and marketing director of Reb A supplier PureCircle said: “We are delighted to see the top three beverage manufacturers in the USA all embracing the use of Reb A as the natural sweetener for mainstream products. Early US retail sales data for the Reb A-containing products in the beverage and tabletop top categories is extremely encouraging.”

All Sport Naturally Zero is due to hit the shelves next month in three flavors: Dragonfruit, Strawberry Star Fruit and Mandarin Orange.

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