This new Dutch soda has a vibrant turquoise color and is loaded with vitamin C, calcium and B vitamins. Whereas vivid colors in beverages often come from synthetic food dyes, Ful contains spirulina, a blue-green colored algae. This powerful food is full of nutrients, yet spirulina also can have a positive impact on the environment when compared to ingredients in conventional beverages on the market. Ful’s researchers say they have found a way to extract the nutrients without the strong taste.
Ful Revive was developed by a team of women, Julia Streuli, Sara Guagilo and Cristina Prat, each of whom is seeking to do their part to help the globe accelerate its transition toward decarbonization. “We would like to feed a new generation of consumers with healthy, delicious, and low-carbon-footprint products by harnessing the incredible properties of algae,” noted Streuli, the CEO of Ful, who along with the other co-founders were profiled in a recent Blue Ocean Strategy case study.
The co-founders have a different take on the term “superfoods,” a term generally used for foods rich in nutrients. The team at Ful also encourages consumers to examine the impact of foods on the planet, as well as our bodies.
“We found that algae is an ideal food source for the future,” said Guagilo. “Not only is it incredibly nutritious with high protein content and rich in vitamins and minerals, but farming algae is also quite sustainable since it requires neither arable land nor considerable amounts of water to grow. Algae capture CO2 and convert it into O2 – and they grow very fast – taking about ten days in total. In terms of protein yield, algae produce protein 200 times faster than beef.”
The Aztecs first used spirulina to boost endurance, and more recent research has confirmed that claim. Various studies have concluded that it is an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory, and provides a good source of vegan protein. Further, it has been used to combat malnutrition in impoverished areas. Nevertheless, it has remained a niche product in health food stores and hasn’t found widespread market appeal.
Nevertheless, Ful is setting out to make spirulina a more mainstream product and sees tremendous potential in this superfood. The brand seeks to reach Millennials and Gen Zers by appealing to its products’ health and environmental benefits.
“Based on the carbon negative nature of spirulina, we aim to blur the boundaries of functional drinks by offering a tasty and nutritious natural beverage,” added Guagilo.
However, the beverage market is crowded and has fierce competition. “There are too many different types of drinks. If you want to be healthy, you choose Vitamin Water or organic juice. If you need an energy boost, there’s Red Bull. If you want to hydrate, go for coconut water or Gatorade. Each drink has a specific function for a given event,” explained Julia. However, according to the trio, there are no beverages that really present an environmental benefit, and they believe there is unmet market demand for such products.
The typical environmental considerations for beverages revolve around making packaging less wasteful, lightweight or more readily recyclable. However, Ful’s employees examine the product's lifecycle, starting with examining the production of its ingredients, to make a carbon-negative drink.
This sparkling beverage, Ful Revive, is now available in three flavors: lime & mint, lemon & ginger and white peach. The drinks contain no added sugar and have 7.5 grams of spirulina extract per glass bottle. Although they currently offer only beverages, Ful is exploring other food products.
Co-written with Leon Kaye
Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and copywriter and has worked as a consultant to help large corporations become more sustainable. She is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living, and her renewable energy experience includes residential and commercial solar energy installations. She teaches green business classes to graduate students at Unity College and holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School.
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