Founder and CEO Yin Zou discovered gac on a lengthy business trip to Vietnam. Her friends recommended it when she was struggling with eye strain and dry skin due to her workload.
She says her health improved over time and noted that she had been eating the fruit daily for several weeks while in Vietnam. But gac is a rare and localized fruit, and nearly impossible to find in the US outside of Little Saigon in San Francisco.
Bringing gac to the masses
Zou saw an opportunity to commercialize gac by developing a functional beverage that would make the superfruit accessible to people around the world. Zou says the fruit is extremely rich in carotenoids, a powerful antioxidant found in vegetables like spinach, carrots and tomatoes.
“GacLife was created in direct response to severe skin irritants and eye troubles we experience daily due to digital burnout. With the high nutrient potency of the rare superfruit gac, GacLife is promoting the concept of natural preventative beauty by creating functional wellness water to share with the world,” Zou said.
Each 12 oz bottle has 20 milligrams of carotenoids, the equivalent of one head of cabbage, 5 large tomatoes, 15 large carrots and 30 bunches of spinach. The drink has 15 calories per bottle and no added or artificial sugars.
“We’re trying to position the product as drinkable beauty or drinkable skin and vision care. It’s quite an interesting concept because it’s very popular in Asia and considerably popular in Europe. But in the US, it’s still kind of a new concept. People spend a lot more money on external, topical beauty products. They put less emphasis on products that are ingestible and that can boost your beauty. We think this is an opportunity and differentiator, especially since the nutrients in gac are great for your skin, your vision and your overall immune system,” Zou told BeverageDaily.
‘Water-haters’ just want some flavor
The logistics of developing the beverage was complicated, but the brand settled on sourcing the gac fruit from northern Vietnam, where the nutrients are richer due to the cold weather and low humidity. Upon harvesting the edible arils are removed and frozen, then shipped directly to GacLife’s production facilities in Los Angeles where the beverage is produced.
The drink has a mild flavor, though it appears pigmented and colorful. According to Zou, consumers who have tried the water at sampling events assumed it was carrot or tomato juice on sight and were surprised by the taste, similar to other flat and sparkling flavored waters.
“I’m a millennial myself, and I know that some people are just water-haters. I have a lot of those in my life. They just don’t want straight-up water. They want some flavor. They have plenty of coffee supply in their office environment, they just don’t need that much caffeine. Sometimes they just want a little flavor,” Zou said.
GacLife is launching in the US in early August online and in more than 170 fitness centers and yoga studios around the country. The current flavor line-up is lemon, pineapple, peach, sparkling mango, sparkling lemon and sparkling passion fruit.