PURCHASE, N.Y. -- Mountain Dew has launched Kickstart, a new sparkling juice beverage.
Available in two flavors, Orange Citrus and Fruit Punch, and with 80-calories per 16-ounce can, Kickstart "presents a fresh alternative to the age-old morning question of 'coffee or juice' by offering the best of all worlds," the company said.
Kickstart combines the taste of Mountain Dew with 5% real fruit juice and caffeine.
The company offered consumers a chance to request a can of Kickstart online before it hits shelves on Feb. 25, but the offer had run out by Monday morning.
"Our consumers told us they are looking for an alternative to traditional morning beverages--one that tastes great, includes real fruit juice and has just the right amount of kick to help them start their days," said Greg Lyons, vice president of marketing for Mountain Dew. "We heard them loud and clear and created a completely new offering with Kickstart to give them exactly what they asked for."
PepsiCo said it does not consider Kickstart to be an energy drink, saying that it still has far less caffeine than drinks like Monster and Red Bull and none of the ingredients that have raised concerns among lawmakers and consumer advocates, said an Associated Press report.
But Kickstart could nevertheless give the company a side door into the fast-growing energy drink market without getting tangled in any of its controversies, the news agency said.
Simon Lowden, chief marketing officer for PepsiCo's Americas beverages, said the idea for Kickstart came about after the company learned through consumer research that Mountain Dew fans were looking for an alternative to traditional morning drinks such as coffee, tea and juice.
"They didn't really see anything that fit their needs," he told AP.
He said the company developed Kickstart independently from a Taco Bell breakfast drink that the quick-serve chain introduced last year that combines Mountain Dew and orange juice.
With the growth of energy drinks such as Monster and Red Bull expected to slow, Kickstart could also signal the emergence of a new category that plays off the promise of energy and other health benefits, John Sicher, publisher of the trade journal Beverage Digest, told AP.
In a nod to the growing concerns about sugary drinks, for example, Kickstart also uses artificial sweeteners to reduce its caloric content to about half that of regular soda..
"It's a very interesting experiment capturing a number of attributes," Sicher said, likening it to Starbucks' Refreshers drinks, which promise "natural energy" from green coffee extract.
Mountain Dew is a product of PepsiCo Americas Beverages. In addition to original Mountain Dew and Diet Mountain Dew, the permanent Dew product line includes Mountain Dew Code Red, Mountain Dew LiveWire, Mountain Dew Throwback, Mountain Dew Voltage and Mountain Dew White Out.
Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo is a global food and beverage leader with net revenues of more than $65 billion and a product portfolio that includes 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in annual retail sales. Its main businesses are Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade, Frito-Lay and Pepsi-Cola.