“We're really interested in innovative ingredients and what is trending in the marketplace, and consumers are really interested in mushrooms, and Lion's Mane is one of them,” Barbaro said. “We wanted to make sure that they know we're listening, and we want to be a part of the journey with them as we explore new ingredients and develop the best products for them.”
Most of PepsiCo consumers 'share a heavy interest in ... Lion's Mane'
Rockstar Energy Focus is a Lion's Mane-infused beverage that contains 200 mg of caffeine and is available in Lemon Lime, White Peach, and Orange Pineapple flavors. The product comes in a 12 oz for $2.99 on Rockstar Energy’s website and nationwide where PepsiCo products are sold.
Medicinal mushrooms, like Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Cordyceps, and others have gained popularity for their purported functional benefits, including immunity support, stress release, and more. The global functional mushroom market was worth $31.71bn in 2023 and is expected to grow at an 11.2% CAGR from 2024-2030, according to Grand View Research.
“We try to get the trends at the early onset, so ... we [are] always watching to see what is emerging and staying on top of it. So, we have a whole group, even just within R&D and insights, that are just focusing on the early trends and making sure that we are staying on top of those, so that we can be at the center of the universe when it is all percolating.”
Fabiola Torres, PepsiCo GM and chief marketing officer of the energy category, stated in a press, “that 64% of [PepsiCo’s] consumers share a heavy interest in the ingredient, Lion's Mane.”
The beverage is also formulated with sucralose and acesulfame potassium to provide sweetness with zero calories, Barbaro explained. As part of its PepsiCo Positive (pep+) agenda, the company wants to achieve 100 calories or fewer from added sugar per 12 fluid oz. serving in at least 67% of its beverage by 2025.
“Zero sugar is extremely important to us. As we know consumers want to watch total amount of sugar that they would like to consume. So, we want to be part of that journey. We want to provide options. And in the energy category itself, the biggest category that's growing is zero sugar. So, we want to make sure that we're providing the best options for them, and we provide those options through many ways within our portfolio.”
Revitalizing Rockstar Energy for consumers
The release of the Focus line comes at a time when PepsiCo is investing more in the energy drink category across its portfolio while making Rockstar the anchor brand for the space. PepsiCo acquired Rockstar in March 2020 and rebranded it in 2021. More recently, the beverage leader helped natural energy brand Celsius grow its distribution with a deal, where it invested $550m stake in the company.
As it looks to the future, PepsiCo is revamping Rockstar Energy through new products and tapping into popular consumer trends, echoing the sentiment Torres expressed in a previous FoodNavigator-USA article.
“Rockstar is going to continue to be revitalized for the consumer, and ... we're not going to stay stagnant... We're on the top of the heels of latest in technology and what consumers want and consumer trends, and this Focus line represents that. And that's the clear point that we would want to resonate as it we’re at the heart of the consumer and we're going to be agile, and we're going to serve them in the best way we can with the highest quality products,” Barbaro said.