US soft drinks giant PepsiCo is to invest US$30m next year to rejuvenate its Gatorade sports drink.

The investment, a spokesperson for the firm confirmed just-drinks today (15 December), will include improvements in packaging and ingredients, with the removal of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from all Gatorade drinks.

Gatorade sales have struggled in the last 12 months and PepsiCo has been preparing for several months to reposition the brand early in 2010.

"Gatorade is without a doubt one of the most authentic and trusted brands in sports," PepsiCo said. 

"As the category leader, we're continuing our evolution from sports drink company to sports performance innovator. 2010 represents a significant step to evolve through innovation beyond hydration to sports performance and meeting more athlete needs."

PepsiCo said the removal of HFCS is part of the company's long-term strategy to reinforce the functional benefits of the brand.

"Through our research and understanding of athletes, we have learned many have a negative perception of HFCS. We have listened to these consumers and removing HFCS from Gatorade and G2 to meet the needs of more athletes," the company said.

Gatorade has been particularly hard hit by consumers trading down during the US recession, as well as by new competitors in the health and wellness drinks sector.  

"Our goal is to migrate the casual drinker and wellness oriented Gatorade consumers to new offerings in 2010," the firm said.

Last week, PepsiCo confirmed that it has withdrawn its Gatorade Tiger Focus sports drink, which is co-branded with golfer Tiger Woods. 

The firm cited strategic motives, denying any link with the current media speculation surrounding Woods' private life.