It’s called EX5. The “5” refers to the drink’s five benefits – quicker recovery, less sodium, lower calories, more electrolytes and less sugar, says inventor Brian Brothers, of Covington, La.
Brothers said he got the idea for a new drink while watching sporting events on television. So starting with the idea of improving sports drinks, he spent six months on the Internet, researching sports drink components such as sugar, sodium and important electrolytes.
One of the shortcomings of most drinks, he decided, is the low amounts of potassium and other electrolytes.
“I put together a formula and found that potassium creates a bad taste,” Brothers said. But to be effective, he believed, a new concoction needed a higher level of the element than other drinks on the market.
His next step was to contact the LSU AgCenter’s Food Science Department. “I wanted to find a graduate who works for a company that could help me develop a new product,” he said.
Instead of finding an employee in a commercial company, Brothers found John Finley, head of the Department of Food Science, who said he would help with technology and formulation.
As it turns out, Finley and a group of food science faculty and students had developed a product that masks the bitterness of potassium and similar foods. The meeting with Finley, Brothers said, was “totally coincidental.”
Along with Finley, the development team included graduate student Darryl Holliday, LSU AgCenter scientist Joan King, graduate assistant Adriana Soto and research associate Alfredo Prudente.
“The technology aids in taste,” Brothers said. “Without the technology, there would be a bitter taste because of the electrolytes and reduced sugar.”
The technology has additional applications for medicines and foods, Finley said. “It’s a simple way to mask flavors many don’t like. And its application to a sports drink is amazing.”
After spending almost a year researching his new product and another year with Finley and his researchers, Brothers and his business partner, attorney Craig Hart, established H&B Beverages. The company has licensed the AgCenter technology and contracted with two companies to produce the base of his drink and put it into bottles.
The new drink has hit the shelves in limited amounts in the Baton Rouge area, and the company expects statewide distribution in Louisiana by summer.
Along with retail distribution, the company has arranged with several state high schools and colleges to use EX5 in their athletic training programs. The company supplies the athletic programs with bulk power to mix with water to make larger quantities of the drink.
“The AgCenter took a risk with a start-up company,” Brothers said. “And it’s paying off.”