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2019-09-18 16:15:24

Dive Brief:LifeFuels has launched what it claims is the first smart nutrition bottle, combining with an app to track both hydration and nutrition goals, FoodBev Media reported. The former Keurig Green Mountain — which bought Dr Pepper Snapple and renamed the company in mid-2018 —announced last year it would partner with and invest in LifeFuels to accelerate commercialization and growth of its portable drink maker. The size of the investment was not disclosed.“LifeFuels' innovative solution to an everyday problem, smart device technology, sleek design, and entrepreneurial team are aligned with our vision of being a new challenger in the beverage industry,” Bob Gamgort, who is Keurig Dr Pepper's current CEO, said in a statement in 2018.

Dive Insight:

LifeFuels' portable drink system is designed to be more than just a reusable water bottle. Cartridges called FuelPods are inserted into the bottom. They dispel a variety of flavors, including blackberry aç​ai and kiwi strawberry lemonade, into the water. The technology then uses an integrated app to automatically track consumption, nutrition and hydration. It syncs with other fitness apps to provide recommendations and insight that people can view on their phone while on the go. 

LifeFuels' CEO Jonathon Perrelli told The Washington Post that he wants LifeFuels to do for hydration what Fitbit has done for walking and exercise. “People like data,” Perrelli told the newspaper. “They want customization, portability and the ability to understand why they feel the way they do. And they want to track it all.”

The technology is not cheap, with each FuelPod costing about $12 and the smart bottle itself selling on LifeFuels' website for $180. For younger cash-strapped consumers, the price tag could be a shock. Still, LifeFuels hits on a lot of the key attributes that are important to consumers, including natural flavors and sweeteners, a portable container and its ability to reduce the use of disposable plastic bottles. In addition, it enables data-hungry users concerned about their health to monitor their consumption with information on how much vitamins, electrolytes or liquid they've consumed immediately from their smart phone.

As people increasingly value these characteristics in the products they buy and consume, these could be enough to justify the price.

For Keurig Dr Pepper, the investment it made in LifeFuels already shows signs of paying off. The company invested in the upstart more than a year ago and the product is already hitting the market. The partnership and investment marks a logical move as LifeFuels' pod/smart bottle mirrors the Keurig single-serve coffee platform, which revolutionized how the hot beverage is consumed at home.

LifeFuels also builds on a recent push by Keurig Dr Pepper to diversify its portfolio beyond its signature coffees and sodas. In April, Keurig Dr Pepper said it would nationally distribute Runa Clean Energy, an organic drink made with the guayusa leaf sourced in Ecuador. And last year, it purchased Core Nutrition for $525 million to gain access to its premium, nutrient-enhanced bottled water and USDA-certified fruit-enhanced hydration beverage.

As the public increasingly turns to healthier beverages without wanting to sacrifice flavor, essential vitamins and nutrients, platforms like LifeFuels​ appear to be ideally positioned. But LifeFuels​​ faces a crowded space from scores of other water companies like Coca-Cola with its Topo Chico, Smartwater and Dasani; and PepsiCo's SodaStream, Aquafina and bubly, among countless other varieties on the market, that are boosting the attributes found in their beverages. For LifeFuels​​​, it doesn't hurt that it has the deep pockets and expertise of Keurig Dr Pepper to help.

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