Gatorade is jumping on the certified organic bandwagon in response to the growing demand for organic food products from consumers, but is the new version really any healthier than its predecessors?
Many people, athletes in particular, turn to the beverage to replace the electrolytes lost from sweating, but some health-conscious consumers are understandably concerned about the drink’s rather unnatural color and long list of unpronounceable ingredients.
Enter the new product, G Organic, which will be available in flavors such as lemon, strawberry, and mixed berry. It will roll out to a number of grocery stores and convenience stores over the next several weeks. Its suggested retail price is about 50 cents more than its non-organic equivalent, and it will initially only be available in single-serving bottles to encourage people to give it a chance.
Gatorade has enjoyed a long run as the beverage of choice for athletes, controlling 70 percent of the market for sports drinks. However, healthier alternatives like coconut water have been threatening its dominance in recent years as the national trend toward natural and clean food continues.
It’s a smart business move for Gatorade. Organic food sales went up 11 percent between 2014 and 2015, reaching $43.3 billion. The company reports that as many as 12 percent of athletes have indicated they want to purchase organic products, and this new concoction answers that demand.
Almost as much sugar as a can of Coke
G Organic has been certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It has just seven ingredients: water, organic cane sugar, organic natural flavor, citric acid, sodium citrate, sea salt, and potassium chloride.
Unfortunately, however, it has the same amount of sugar as other Gatorade products, with the only advantage being that the sugar in this version is organic. In one 16.9-ounce bottle of G Organic, there are a whopping seven teaspoons of added sugar, which is only slightly less than what you’d find in a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola. The American Heart Association recommends people limit themselves to just six teaspoons of sugar a day, so you’ve already gone over the limit by drinking just one bottle of G Organic.
More consumers demanding natural, organic ingredients
Gatorade is just the latest food product to go organic. Last year, Capri Sun came out with an organic version of its fruit-flavored drink, and firms like Kraft Heinz Co. and General Mills Inc. have been removing artificial ingredients from their foods in recent years.
Gatorade has already stopped using brominated vegetable oil in its drinks after hefty criticism from online forums such as Change.org and across other social media platforms.
Gatorade Senior Vice President and General Manager Brett O’Brien said that the most difficult part about developing the drink was giving it the same levels of electrolytes and carbohydrates as other Gatorade products without adding too many calories.
Water still the best way to stay hydrated
Of course, for all their efforts, the drink will never be nearly as natural as coconut water or even water itself. While this is a good alternative for health-conscious athletes who still find themselves reaching for sports drinks after a big workout or game, it’s important to keep in mind that it still contains a concerning amount of sugar.
The truth is that the most natural beverage there is – water – is more than adequate for hydrating people, even after intense workouts. For centuries, humans have survived by drinking water when they are thirsty, despite what the marketing teams behind drinks like Gatorade would like to have you believe.