The firm behind heart-friendly beetroot juice Beet It is aiming to complete its first production run of a ‘one-shot’ 70ml version this month to provide a healthy alternative to drinks such as Red Bull Energy Shots and Lucozade Alert Plus.
The concentrated version will contain the same amount of nitrate – the active ingredient – as the larger packs on sale in selected Sainsbury, Waitrose, Morrisons and Holland & Barrett stores, said Lawrence Mallinson, MD of brand owner James White Drinks. “Holland & Barrett is going to trial our new 70ml version, which we see as a kind of healthy alternative to Red Bull shots and those types of drinks.”
Mallinson, who has been working with academics at St Bartholomew's Hospital to explore the cardiovascular benefits of beetroot juice, changed the name of his product from ‘Heartbeet’ to ‘Beet It’ last year as the original name would have been regarded as an implied health claim under the EU health claims Regulation.
Unlike some other blood pressure reduction products, which contain dairy peptides, beetroot juice is naturally rich in nitrates, which bacteria in the mouth convert to nitrite. The nitrite is then converted into nitric oxide, which acts like a natural aspirin to prevent blood clots, protect the lining of the blood vessels and lower blood pressure, claimed Mallinson.
While spinach was also high in nitrate, its juice was "pretty unpalatable", claimed Mallinson. "We see beetroot juice as something that might replace orange juice at breakfast."
James White Drinks was considering lodging a health claims application under the new Regulation, said Mallinson, but the restrictiveness of the regime had put him off: “The research says that beetroot juice reduces blood pressure, but I would have to say something wishy-washy like ‘helps maintain a healthy blood pressure’, which is stupid”.
James White Drinks, which has historically imported beetroots to produce the drink, had recently struck a deal with Cambridge-based Greens of Soham to grow 200t of organic beetroot in Suffolk, said Mallinson. "Bringing in beetroot juice from the Continent seemed mad. East Anglia is the sugar beet capital of Europe and beetroots are a perfect crop for our local farmers."
Mallinson said sales of the juice had recently been boosted after a study revealed nitrates in it could improve stamina for athletes and boost oxygen usage efficiency. “We see sports nutrition as a target market.”