The Background of How Gatorade Became Kosher


gatoradeThree years ago, Chaim Goldberg, an expatriate analyst in Purchase, and Ron Siesser, compensation manager for Quaker Tropicana and Gatorade in Chicago, started on a journey that was realized this year when Gatorade introduced kosher labeling to the Gatorade Thirst Quencher (GTQ) and G2 products.Ron and Chaim, both kosher consumers, decided to see what could be done to help Gatorade join the growing list of kosher products in the PepsiCo portfolio, including varieties under Pepsi, Quaker, Tropicana and Frito-Lay brands.

In what can be described as the employee “idea network” at its best, the two employees spent the first year researching what it would take to have Gatorade labeled as kosher, analyzing the potential marketplace win and building a business case for the change.

The turning point came when Rich Beck, president of North America Functional Beverages, joined the Gatorade business in 2008 and encouraged employees to offer ideas that could help reinvent the brand and drive profitable success. Seizing the opportunity, Ron and Chaim worked with senior HR leaders to secure time with Rich and present their plan.

“It’s a real testament to the company that the leadership was willing to listen to employees about their idea,” said Ron. “At PepsiCo, we’re all about choice and now having a kosher sports drink puts us in competitive spaces we were previously absent from. I’m proud that all the teams — sales, supply chain, marketing, finance — saw the value of this change and made it happen.”

From Plan to Execution

Several months after the proposal was presented, account managers from the sales team, including Harvey Rosenthal in the critical New York market, echoed the market opportunity and incremental growth potential with kosher labeling. For years, competitive products such as Powerade and Vitamin Water were already labeled kosher and it was important Gatorade be able to compete. This was especially key in markets where kosher consumers live and exercise, including many New York City marathon competitors who couldn’t drink any products from the beverage sponsor of the event — Gatorade.

The Orthodox Union (OU) was selected among several rabbinical organizations to provide the kosher certification stamp, but it was crucial that everything from the sourcing of raw ingredients to the manufacturing process be reviewed to ensure that stringent kosher guidelines were met.

Formulation changes over the past several years paved the road for gaining the OU certification without being cost prohibitive. Additionally, the rabbinical organization worked with all eight Gatorade plants and co-packers to ensure the hotfill lines were cleansed according to kosher standards.

Small Investment, Big Payoff

While the overall business changes required to label GT Q and G2 kosher were minimal, the anticipated profit was truly incremental.

The OU label will now bring several new consumers into the brand – including those beyond the Orthodox Jewish community. According to Ron and Chaim, the OU is the largest kosher certifying agency and, during the last 10 years, the OU mark has become a symbol of trust and quality that transcends religious affiliation, particularly for those who observe Hallal, vegan and vegetarian diets.

“In 2008, when the safety of both durable and non-durable products imported from overseas was being questioned, Bloomberg News reported how consumers were looking to kosher certification not just for dietary needs, but as another hand in the process to validate ingredients ” said Chaim. “Similar to the function an accounting firm serves when they audit a company, consumers look at kosher certification the same way.”

That same Bloomberg article also estimated the U.S. kosher market in 2008 to be around $11.5 billion – and now Gatorade will be able to secure a slice of that empire. As part of their research, Chaim and Ron compiled a list of hundreds of kosher restaurants, grocery stores and establishments in the U.S. for the Gatorade sales team to approach and sell in the new kosher GTQ and G2. In select East Coast test markets, the kosher-certified products have already received positive feedback and are positioned for success.

“I’ve been receiving text messages at all hours from friends who just tried Gatorade for the first time now that it’s kosher, said Ron. “There’s an amazing buzz with the brand right now with everyday athletes needing kosher refueling.”

{Noam Newscenter}


  1. who needs Gatorade? I managed fine without it for 58 years, and my parents and grandparents before me etc. did too.

  2. Now a yid will be able to win the NYC Marathon.

    Note that while the OU can make Gatorade kosher, they can’t make gators kosher. Do not eat any alligators. They are still treif.

  3. Now if a frum athlete is on the winning Super Bowl team and they pour Gatarade over his head hw won’t have to keep his mouth shut!

  4. And in Boro Park there must be a “chasidishe hechsher” or it’s can’t be sold anywhere. get ready for the polticis and prices to sky rocket because it is kosher.