Sports drinks used to be an undramatic two-horse race. Gatorade led by several lengths, and Powerade was satisfied with a solid second place finish. Then came BodyArmor, galloping into the fray like Silky Sullivan, the thoroughbred known for closing a seemingly insurmountable distance.
Twenty years after PepsiCo’s transformational acquisition of Gatorade, an emerging field of challengers is emboldened by BodyArmor’s success. The US sports drink category has become one of frenetic energy.
Coca-Cola intends to buy a controlling stake in BodyArmor, which just launched a national ad campaign for BodyArmor Edge. Mexico-based Electrolit, which recently signed up for a Southwest expansion with Hensley Beverage in Arizona, has sued PepsiCo’s Gatorade over a US product launch. Separately, Gatorade may soon get relief from production constraints.
Additional new challengers are on the move. BioSteel signed a partnership with NBA star and Dallas Mavericks player Luka Dončić. The brand also will succeed Coca-Cola’s Powerade as sponsor of the US Soccer Federation. Backed by major Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth, BioSteel has distribution muscle from Constellation Brands-aligned wholesalers including Reyes Holdings.
Startup GoodSport Nutrition has launched a natural sports drink that incorporates functional ingredients from ultrafiltered milk. Bob Murray, former director of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, helped develop the drink and is the company’s chief hydration officer. Another startup, Ready Nutrition, has launched a sports drink made with superfruits.
Don’t expect Gatorade to back down. The race is getting good.
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