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Published: 2/12/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

PepsiCo to Kickstart entry into energy drinks

Juice added to Mountain Dew taste

BLADE NEWS SERVICES
PepsiCo product Kickstart, a carbonated drink that is part juice with Mountain Dew flavor, is shown. PepsiCo product Kickstart, a carbonated drink that is part juice with Mountain Dew flavor, is shown.
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NEW YORK — If you don’t like coffee or tea, Mountain Dew has a new breakfast drink that might perk you up.

PepsiCo Inc. is rolling out a drink called Kickstart this month that has Mountain Dew flavor but is made with 5 percent juice and Vitamins B and C, along with an extra jolt of caffeine.

The company, based in Purchase, N.Y., is hoping to boost sales by reaching Mountain Dew fans at a new time of day: morning.

PepsiCo said it doesn’t consider Kickstart to be an energy drink, noting that it still has far less caffeine than drinks such as Monster and Red Bull and none of the mysterious ingredients that have raised concerns among lawmakers and consumer advocates.

But Kickstart, which comes in flavors such as “energizing orange citrus” and “energizing fruit punch,” could give the company a side-door into the fast-growing energy-drink market without getting tangled in its controversies. The drink comes in the same 16-ounce cans as popular energy drinks by Monster Beverage Corp., which also offers options with juice content. And the TV ad features young men skateboarding, reminiscent of the marketing themes used by energy-drink makers.

Simon Lowden, chief marketing officer for PepsiCo’s Americas beverages, says the idea for Kickstart emerged after the company learned through consumer research that Mountain Dew fans were looking for an alternative to traditional morning drinks such as coffee, tea, and juice.

Mr. Lowden said Kickstart was developed independently from a Taco Bell breakfast drink introduced last year that combines Mountain Dew and orange juice.

With the growth of energy drinks such as Monster and Red Bull expected to slow, Kickstart could signal the emergence of a category that plays off the promise of energy and other health benefits, said John Sicher, publisher of the trade journal Beverage Digest.

In a nod to the growing concerns about sugary drinks, for example, Kickstart also uses artificial sweeteners to reduce its caloric content to about half that of regular soda; a can has 80 calories.

“It’s a very interesting experiment capturing a number of attributes,” Mr. Sicher said, likening it to Starbucks’ Refreshers drinks, which promise “natural energy” from green coffee extract.

The promise of “energy” has been a big seller in the beverage industry in recent years, with the energy-drink market increasing 17 percent in 2011 even as broader soft-drink consumption has been declining, according to Beverage Digest.

Although Kickstart may look like an energy drink, it has far less caffeine, at 92 milligrams for a 16-ounce can. A comparable amount of regular Mountain Dew would have 72 milligrams of caffeine while a can of PepsiCo’s Amp energy drink has 142 milligrams, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. By comparison, a 16-ounce cup of Starbucks coffee has 330 milligrams of caffeine.



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