Lucozade Sport Champions’ Choice contains 80mg of caffeine per 500ml bottle – about a coffee cup’s worth, and the standard energy drink addition – but spokesperson Scott Branch said the drink was not seeking to break out of the sports category.
“This is all about the sports category and sports performance and bringing in new people to the category,” Branch told us, noting the ongoing presence of carbohydrate and electrolytes in the drink.
Champions’ Choice was developed in conjunction with the McLaren Formula 1 motor racing team which Lucozade sponsors.
“It is not specifically for car drivers and motor sport athletes,” said Branch.
“In fact, any individual taking part in more than 60-90 min of moderate to high intensity intermittent or endurance exercise who is looking to improve their alertness and concentration and delay fatigue, may benefit from consuming Champion’s Choice, before or during training and competition."
“It is not suited to the general consumer driving their car for leisure, unless they are actively taking part in moderate to high intensity endurance exercise or prolonged intermittent team sports.”
Just before the London Olympics last year the British Medical Journal published a damning report on the sports nutrition sector, questioning whether many products were any better than water, which was followed by a similarly scathing documentary on British TV.
At the time GSK pointed to 40 years of research and more than 85 studies that showed the benefits of its products, and later said it was increasing focus on R&D as it ended a 20-year sponsorship of the English Premier League football championship.
"This will enable us to develop more advanced products," said GSK general manager Peter Harding.
The caffeine addition is not the first for Lucozade. It previously had a product called Lucozade Sport Caffeine Boost, but that contained only 46mg of caffeine.
Caffeine won five positive health claim opinions from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in recent years but they are not yet available for use as conditions of use are being debated by the European Commission and European Union member states.
Those claims are:
- ‘caffeine helps to improve concentration’
- ‘caffeine helps to increase alertness’
- ‘caffeine contributes to a reduction in the rated perceived exertion/effort during endurance exercise’
- ‘caffeine contributes to an increase in endurance performance’
- ‘caffeine contributes to an increase in endurance performance capacity’
The launch comes at a time GSK has stated it is strategically reviewing both Lucozade and Ribena, and there has been much speculation that the brands may be sold off.
Boosting marketing around the brands in emerging markets like China has also come under consideration. The company opened an innovation centre there recently.