Simply put, I would not recommend this product. Celsius’s lack of transparency is almost impressive. They give no information about their manufacturing process, labor practices, and are even trying to hide ingredients from their consumers. Behind the potentially valid claims of athletic performance, lies a company with no clear brand values (no corporate social responsibility or sustainability reports in sight!) If you need an energy boost, I’d recommend our reviews on Guayaki's Yerba Mate or Red Bull for a better option.
On the surface, Celsius looks like a healthy energy drink alternative. They boast that their products are vegan, non-GMO, and contain no sugar, aspartame (an artificial sugar), high fructose corn syrup, or artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. Their website clearly showcases 6 main ingredients: green tea leaf extract, ginger root, vitamin B, vitamin C, guarana seed extract, and chromium (a naturally occurring mineral). The chromium and guarana seed extract raise the most questions due to their extraction processes. The process of mining chromium has led to surface water contamination and can cause respiratory problems, disease, birth defects, infertility, and tumors in animals that digest its mining waste. Guarana seed extract is primarily extracted from the Amazon rainforest and requires handpicking. Celsius provides no information on how much the workers who perform this labor-intensive process are paid. It should also be noted that guarana has been around for centuries, and is sacred to the Sateré-Mawé indigenous people. It would be great if celsius acknowledged the cultural significance of this ingredient on its website instead of simply stating that it “contains twice the amount of caffeine than the average coffee bean.”
After its six main ingredients, Celsius conveniently leaves out the nine other ingredients from its website. These ingredients are hidden on the can under “other ingredients” and contain a variety of synthetically produced ingredients including taurine, glucuronolactone, and malic acid. The worst of these ingredients is sucralose, also known as artificial sugar. Artificial sugars have a significant impact on our environment since they contain chemical compounds that can’t be completely broken down in our bodies. As a result, they enter our environment and can affect algae which in turn affect the health of fish (although more long-term studies need to be conducted on this). Although Celsius has never claimed to be eco-friendly, their use of the term “artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors'' is deceptive and purposely avoids mentioning the use of artificial sugars and synthetically produced ingredients.
Besides claiming to manufacture their product in the U.S., Celsius provides no other information on their extraction or manufacturing processes. However, many of their ingredients are commonly farmed in places such as Brazil, South Africa, China, etc.; so we can assume the transportation of these products to their U.S. manufacturing sites contribute significant amounts of CO2 compared to locally grown ingredients. The brand also gives no insight into their labor practices or pay.
Celsius was founded by former CEO Steven Harley in 2005. By 2011, the company was on the brink of bankruptcy after facing a class-action lawsuit for falsely claiming their drink had weight loss properties. After avoiding the lawsuit, Celsius decided it was best to target their marketing to workout performance rather than weight loss. This marketing, along with a change in leadership, allowed the company to achieve 40-60% growth by 2018. However, this success doesn’t make up for a clear lack of company values. Their website contains nothing but promises of athletic performance backed by 6 university studies. This is great, but was there no room for a sustainability report? What about diversity and inclusion efforts or corporate social responsibility initiatives? Product performance is great, but transparency in all aspects of the company would give consumers a better idea of who they are supporting.