Pepsi Creates Functional Beverage to De-Stress

Cans of Driftwell enhanced water are expected to hit stores in early 2021.

September 15, 2020

PURCHASE, N.Y.—COVID-19 has upped everyone’s stress levels, with doctors reporting more cases of insomnia and dentists seeing far more cracked teeth—the result of teeth grinding—than normal. Now, PepsiCo is promoting its newest drink, Driftwell, to help combat the problem.

According to CNBC, Pepsi employees came up with the idea for a de-stress beverage to help consumers chill out before bedtime. The suggestion was part of an internal competition started last year by CEO Ramon Laguarta. The Driftwell concept won, and the food and beverage giant went to work to create the product. 

Emily Silver, vice president of innovation and capabilities, North American beverages unit, said Driftwell is the fastest new product to ever come out of the company. It will be available nationwide on e-commerce sites in December and in grocery stores by early 2021.

“I think we’re launching this at a time when there’s more consumer interest than there previously was, given everything that’s going on from a macro perspective,” Silver said.

The enhanced water drink contains 200 grams of L-theanine, an amino acid that’s found in green and black teas, plus some mushrooms. A few studies have suggested that the ingredient can improve sleep quality and can help reduce the physical reaction of stress.

“From a scientific and regulatory perspective, we feel really good about making that claim around L-theanine. Specifically, we have safety in clinical data to prove that it works,” Silver said.

Driftwell also contains 10% of the recommended daily value of magnesium. The drink comes in 7.5-ounce mini cans and just one flavor: blackberry lavender. According to Silver, the can is the ideal size for a hydrating drink before bedtime without requiring another trip to the bathroom.

Functional water beverages were a $2.97 billion market in the U.S. last year, according to data from Euromonitor International, which forecasts that their popularity will boost sales nearly 5% this year. Relaxation drinks are a much smaller category, although their popularity in Japan suggests they could become a part of Americans’ everyday routines.

Smaller companies are making their own relaxation drinks by adding CBD to sparkling water and calling it a “sleep aid,” although little research has been done to back up those claims. The Food and Drug Administration still prohibits adding the cannabis compound to food and drinks, and large corporations like Pepsi have avoided that ingredient for now.