MatchaBar Hustle, HiBall, Steaz and Petey’s Bing are rivaling unnatural energy drinks
Good-bye, Red Bull.
Clean energy drinks loaded with natural additives like green tea, matcha and fruit extracts are shaking up the $19.2 billion market.
MatchaBar, the celebrity-backed cafe and retailer known for its fine-ground green tea lattes said to rival the effect of coffee, has bottled up its first energy drink, MatchaBar Hustle. The sparkling sipper contains 120 milligrams of caffeine, which is comparable to the amount in Red Bull. The 12-ounce can is available in regular or a sugar-free version for $2.99 at Whole Foods, and is mixed with just eight ingredients.
And with the matcha tea market slated to grow 4.6% internationally over the next five years, it’s no surprise that investors want a sip of the action. Grammy award-winning artist Drake joined MatchaBar as an investor last year during a second $2.5 million round of funding, and DJ Diplo and NFL star Von Miller led the latest $3.5 million investment with the rollout of MatchaBar Hustle this month.
Traditional energy drinks typically contain high levels of taurine, an amino acid that regulates the amount of water and minerals in the blood; excessive amounts of vitamin B, which can cause liver toxicity; and artificial sweeteners. But all-natural MatchaBar Hustle is made with matcha tea, lemon, lime and green tea extracts rich in antioxidants.
“The products and brands we grew up with — the majority of which are powered by taurine, and filled with chemicals – don’t make sense anymore,” Graham Fortgang, co-founder of MatchaBar, told Moneyish.
And the brand says that rather than feeling jittery sugar highs and lows, consumers will feel a more calm and focused energy.
“You’ll see a huge boost in your immune system response,” added Fortgang, explaining that MatchaBar Hustle also contains naturally-occurring L-theanine, an amino acid said to relax the mind without creating drowsiness. “The combination of antioxidants, caffeine, and L-theanine creates a sustained energy — no crash, no jitters.”
A slew of all-natural energy sips made with teas and plant-based alternatives have seen major sales growth in recent years. HiBall Sparkling Energy Water — a zero-calorie, sugar-free fizzy drink that contains a whopping 160 milligrams of caffeine (the equivalent to a grande iced coffee at Starbucks) saw almost 50% sales growth to reach $7.7 million in 2018, according to market research firm Mintel’s 2018 energy drinks report. Petey’s Bing drinks, infused with vitamin C and fruit extracts, saw a 3.9% sales growth from 2017 to 2018, reaching $8.4 million. And Steaz Energy, a line of organic green tea packed with 100 milligrams of caffeine and naturally sweetened with fruits and berries like goji and acai, also saw 57% sales growth between 2017 and 2018, raking in $924,000 in sales, according to the same report.
While dietitians say that eating whole foods is always a better fueling alternative to drinking energy drinks on-the-go, experts say the all-natural varieties with ingredients you can pronounce and recognize are a much healthier and safer bet than beverage stirred with chemicals and artificial flavors and colors.
“They’re taking plant-based foods and extracting the caffeine from them. I don’t think they’re harmful to your health; you’d be getting the same effect that you’re able to get from coffee,” Sharon Zarabi, a registered dietitian and nutritionist at Lenox Hill Hospital, told Moneyish.
“It’s important to read the labels and try to break down the percentage of ingredients,” she added. “If you see whopping numbers, that’s a red flag. If they say ‘proprietary blend,’ I tend to get a little weary with that, because you never know what their secret sauce is. Those ingredients can be harmful to your health when they’re taken in massive doses.”
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