Later this Fall, GT’s Living Foods will launch GT’s Alive sparkling probiotic ciders, a new line of mushroom-infused vinegar tonics formulated as a lighter, more refreshing alternative to the company’s core kombucha brand.
Alive will be available in three varieties, each featuring a blend of adaptogenic mushrooms and apple cider vinegar paired with a different tea: Mate Mint, Guayusa Turmeric and Pu-erh Root. Each will be packaged in a 16 oz. glass bottles and contain 30 calories and 7g of sugar.
Speaking with BevNET, founder GT Dave described the launch of Alive as one of the first efforts “to fully express the new, refined brand position of GT’s Living Foods”; the company had previously been known as Millennium Foods. He explained that Alive offers a distinct flavor profile and use occasion that complement the company’s existing lines of kombuchas and non-dairy kefirs.
“When we crafted Alive, we were very thoughtful on what we wanted it to be and what we didn’t want it to be,” he said. “We believe that we are essentially crafting a light yet functional and very still nutrition focused offering for a consumer that loves kombucha but wants something a little bit lighter at different times, or perhaps is not ready for kombucha but really wants to understand and explore these kind of lightly sweetened, slightly biting, more earthy focused offerings.”
The liquid itself is a combination of tea, 30g of raw apple cider vinegar and 600mg of three mushrooms used in traditional herbal medicine — reishi, chaga and turkey tail — which are brewed and extracted. The addition of tea gives the line a slightly higher caffeine content than kombucha, averaging around 30mg to 50mg per bottle. With the inclusion of over 1 billion probiotic organisms, Dave said Alive is positioned as an overall wellness beverage. But its creation is also at least partially a reaction to what he calls “the bastardization of kombucha and these other fermented beverages.”
“You have switchels, you have drinking vinegars, you have the highly diluted and barely deserving the name of kombucha offerings, and I think the consumer is slightly confused with what they want and deserve,” he said. While Alive is also a fermented tea drink that also contains probiotics, Dave drew a clear distinction between the new line and GT’s flagship kombuchas, emphasizing that the brand would not “dumb down, dilute or compromise on our kombucha.” In regard to Alive, he said, “If somebody wants a beverage that looks and feels a certain way and it’s not kombucha, our answer to that is fine: we will give you that in the best and most authentic way possible.”
When Alive debuts at select retailers in November ahead of broader launch at natural and conventional retailers later this Fall, it will be merchandised alongside GT’s Kombucha, as well as switchels, drinking vinegars and other fermented beverages. The price point will be in line with other GT’s products, ranging from $2.99 to $3.99. Yet based on formulation and positioning, Dave sees the product as playing between the lines of established categories in search of a foothold with mainstream consumers.
“[Alive is] intended to be a bridge between the very beverage positioned offerings, like sparkling teas, to the drinking vinegars and tonics and to kombucha and kefir,” he said. “It’s for a very broad audience that we are shooting for, to help them understand these types of ingredients, the benefits of them, and, of course, who we are and what we are about.”
Dave also explained the recent change in sugar content as reflected on the labels of some GT’s Kombucha, including the brand’s Synergy Trilogy SKU, which now lists 6g of sugar per 8 oz. serving, having previously been at 2g., He cited ongoing revisions to the Nutrition Facts label with regard to added sugars as a factor.
“In this new, slightly convoluted regulation space, we took it upon ourselves to go for the highest possible sugars in every bottle, which is going to maximum side rather than the average, which then would create a change to the label,” he said, adding that there had been no change in formulation. “Right now, I hope it passes, but there’s been a strong demonization of sugar. If we were talking about a vitamin, most companies — whether it’s beverage or not — they usually understate vitamins. But when you are dealing with things that are undesirable, like sugar and fats, it’s to minimize litigation, to minimize exposure. It’s best to overstate or present [the] worst case scenario.”