'Zero sugar isn’t a trend,’ Swoon co-founder discusses beverage evolution, Barbie collaboration

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Swoon
Image Credit: Swoon

Related tags zero sugar better for you Monk fruit Natural sweeteners

Better-for-you beverage brand Swoon is kicking off summer with two new flavors of its zero-sugar beverage - a Barbie Pink Lemonade and Lemon Iced Tea & Raspberry Iced Tea - as the demand for zero sugar products increases, brand co-founder Cristina Ros Blankfein told FoodNavigator-USA.

Our North Star is naturally zero sugar drinks,” ​Blankfein said. “We see ourselves as modernizing classic drinks, starting with lemonade and your favorite flavors of iced tea, so really approachable flavors and just cleaning them up by having them not have sugar.​”

Creating approachable beverage flavors with zero-sugar

Launched in 2020, Swoon was inspired by co-founder Jennifer Ross' diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes as a child and her realization that there weren't as many food and beverage options available to her.

Over the years, consumer demand for zero sugar products has increased at the same time as research has coorilated health concerns with excessive sugar consumption. In a study of 110,000 people from the ages of 37 to 73, researchers at Oxford Population Health found​ a coorilation between every 5% increase in the share of total calories that come from free sugars and a 10% higher risk of stroke and 6% higher risk in heart disease.

Zero sugar isn't a trend. Reducing sugar is not something that all of a sudden leading-health organizations or doctors are going to change their mind on and say ‘Actually, I take it back consume more sugar,’ which we've definitely seen throughout different diet fads where one moment it's over do this or under do that, and then it switches as different research comes out. We just don't see that happening with sugar.​”

Swoon is “bringing people in through flavors they know and love and just asking them to change the one behavior of leaving out the sugar,​” Blankfein said. Swoon beverages are sweetened with monk fruit, which has a “zero-glycemic impact​,” she added.

Adding a bit of fun with Barbie collaboration

Swoon has released several new flavors and is looking for opportunities to raise brand awareness through partnerships and collaborations, Blankfein said.

Last month, Swoon partnered with toymaker Mattel to release a Barbie Pink Lemonade, which will be available at Target, Whole Foods, and Publix stores as well as on the brand’s website. Additionally, 10% of the net sales from the Barbie x Swoon Pink Lemonades will go to the Barbie Dream Gap Project, a charity designed to provide resources, curriculum, and skills development for girls between 5 and 10 years old around the world.

When asked about the partnership, Blankfein noted that the two brands' “values aligned​” around inclusivity and better-for-you, while also allowing Swoon to embrace a bit of fun and nostalgia related to Barbie.

There is sort of a childhood nostalgia to the whole thing that I think ties together again with Swoon and pink lemonade and Barbie and just this feeling of a breath of fresh air of like I can have this like sweet sort of indulgent beverage that's full-flavored and also good for me.​”

And hot on the heels of the Barbie collaboration, Swoon is set to release later this month Lemon Iced Tea & Raspberry Iced Tea, which similarly taps into nostalgia related to classic summertime tea flavors, Blankfein said.

When you think iced tea, and you start thinking fun-flavored iced teas, we have our Peach Iced Tea, which is been a really popular flavor and reminiscent for many of peach iced teas in the past. And so now, with raspberry and lemon tea, we're really following suit and really meeting our customer where they are ... with a really cleaned up nutritional panel and no artificial sweeteners and just really clean ingredients.​”                                                                                                

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