By Jeff Ostrowski
The Palm Beach Post, Fla.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Unlike Gatorade and Powerade, “Five Organic” uses no artificial dyes, no artificial flavors, no preservatives and no added sugar. The drink’s sweetness comes from organic stevia.
The Palm Beach Post, Fla.
Are consumers thirsty for an organic, low-calorie alternative to Gatorade? Palm Beach County entrepreneurs Nadav Haimberg and Kara Clapp are about to find out.
They’re the creators of Five Organic, an all-natural sports drink that’s the subject of a marketing push from Publix this month. The product is getting prominent placement in Publix refrigerator cases and is being marked down from the usual price of $2.29 for a 16-ounce bottle to $2.
“We’re at the point where we’re learning whether we’re a hit or not,” says Haimberg.
Publix displays Five Organic near Vitaminwater and Bai, but Haimberg, 38, and Clapp, 47, say they consider the true competition to be category giant Gatorade, along with Powerade and BodyArmour.
“Gatorade Zero has a bunch of artificial ingredients,” Haimberg said. “Gatorade Organic has a bunch of sugar.”
Unlike Gatorade and Powerade, Five Organic uses no artificial dyes, no artificial flavors, no preservatives and no added sugar. The drink’s sweetness comes from organic stevia.
The five in the product’s name refers to the number of calories in an eight-ounce serving.
The harsh reality of competing with Gatorade, the PepsiCo product that dominates the $9 billion sports-drink market, means Five Organic is a long shot to succeed.
The recent history of the beverage industry is littered with the carcasses of products that challenged Gatorade’s hegemony. Clif Quench, an all-natural drink marketed by the makers of Clif Bar, quickly disappeared after its 2009 launch.
Champion Lyte, a no-calorie sports drink made by a Boca Raton company, made a splash years ago. It hired former Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler as a pitchman and landed a distribution deal with Palm Beach County schools.
Even so, Champion Lyte evaporated from the drink market.
“Competition in that space is very, very difficult,” said Duane Stanford, executive editor of Beverage Digest. “It’s a pretty challenging market. You’re going against a market leader that has defined the sports drink market for decades.”
There are openings for savvy competitors, however. Coca-Cola, which owns Powerade, recently took a stake in BodyArmor, a product that has pitched itself as a healthier alternative to Gatorade and Powerade.
And there might be enough health-conscious consumers of sports drinks to create a niche for Five Organic.
“Sports drinks have gotten interesting again because you’ve got a certain amount of consumers who are looking to reduce their sugar intake,” Stanford said.
In addition to the distribution deal with Publix, they also sell Five Organic in some Wal-Mart locations on the West Coast and in some Kroger supermarkets in the Midwest and South.
Five Organic also has tested its product at Costco.
While the company has created a dozen flavors, Publix carries just three — apple, grape and peach.
Haimberg and Clapp say they’re running Five Organic on a shoestring. They have no employees so far, and Five Below has outsourced production to a facility in Virginia, although Haimberg said the company will move manufacturing to Central Florida.
In all, they estimate, they’ve invested $250,000 to launch Five Organic.
“Launching a brand is not rocket science,” Haimberg says. “But there are so many things that have nothing to do with the product itself that have to come together.”