Reformulation for Rockstar as virtual event tackles healthy NPD

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

The top six bestselling Rockstar Energy drinks have been reformulated to reduce sugar
The top six bestselling Rockstar Energy drinks have been reformulated to reduce sugar

Related tags: Ingredients & nutrition, Drinks, Bakery, Regulation, Food safety, Npd, Packaging & labelling

Britvic is cutting the sugar content across the six bestselling Rockstar Energy drinks, six months before restrictions on retail promotions of high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) products start in October.

Britvic, which acquired UK bottling and distribution rights for Rockstar in 2020 when PepsiCo acquired the brand, said the aim was to extend the appeal of the stimulants category to health-conscious shoppers. The reformulated flavours will complement Rockstar Original Sugar Free, which already falls under the planned regulations. 

“Since acquiring Rockstar in 2020, we have been executing an ambitious plan for the brand,"​ said Ben Parker, at-home commercial director at Britvic. "This latest move aims to put us ahead of the category by introducing HFSS-compliant liquids more than six months ahead of the proposed legislative changes." 

A survey of 2,000 shoppers commissioned by Britvic and conducted in July 2021 suggested nine out of ten shoppers believe taste is the most important consideration when buying a soft drink, Parker said. "This was fundamental to our decision to keep flavour the priority when formulating these new liquids. This move from Rockstar will therefore allow the brand to energise health-conscious consumers and meet even more of the energy needs we’re seeing across the category, without having to compromise on taste.”

The updated Rockstar core range, with less than 4.5g of sugar per 100ml, will start rolling out from mid-March, backed by out-of-home advertising and social media marketing in June. Reformulated flavours include Original, Punched Tropical Guava, XDurance Blueberry Pomegranate Acai, Juiced El Mango, Juiced Tropical Punch, Juiced Tropical Orange Passion Fruit.

Anticipation is building for the Government's whitepaper response to Henry Dimbleby's National Food Strategy, the second half of which was published in July 2021. Industry sources suggest the document will be made public some time next month (March). Dimbleby's report made a host of recommendations intended to clamp down on HFSS food and drink, including introducing a similar measure to the Soft Drinks Industry Levy in other categories.

In December 2020, the Government declared its aim to introduce regulation restricting retail promotions of HFSS products, such as buy-one-get one free, this year. This is now slated to take effect from October.

Food Manufacture virtual conference on Reformulation

Both these developments, plus technical challenges, tips and achievements in the field of food and drink reformulation across all categories will be covered in a virtual conference organised by Food Manufacture​ on 29-30 March. Saturated fat, salt, and sugar reduction will be addressed, as well as drives to produce allergen-free, vegan-friendly, clean label or products or reduce ingredients costs.

Sponsored by RSSL, Reformulation: What Next ​is aimed ​mainly at NPD, quality assurance and technical managers and food scientists and will feature presentations and input from experts in the fields of nutrition, diet and health. They include Elaine Hindal, director general of the British Nutrition Foundation, Tim Lang, emeritus professor of food policy at City University and a contributor to the National Food Strategy.

Technical, regulatory and policy experts from Campden BRI, RSSL and the Food and Drink Federation will also be taking part. For the full programme and to book tickets, please visit Reformulation: What Next ​now​And for sponsorship opportunities, please contact nyvk.uhagre@jeoz.pbz​.

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