BevNET TV: A Visit with Todd Berardi of Hiball

As one of the first all-natural energy drinks on the market, Hiball has steadily carved a successful niche within the natural channel, one whose consumers have slowly adapted to the booming energy drink category. Yet, Hiball, now armed with new packaging and an revamped formulation, is looking beyond natural retailers, and has set its sights on a dramatic increase in distribution throughout mainstream channels.

Earlier this year, Hiball shifted its packaging from 12 oz. glass bottles to an innovative line of 16 oz. cold-activated cans. Hiball partnered with Ball Corporation to create the new cans, which feature bubble graphics that turn from white to blue when the can reaches 45 degrees Fahrenheit, the optimal temperature for Hiball drinks, according to the company. Hiball also reformulated its line of drinks with its active ingredients – guarana, ginseng, and caffeine – now certified organic.

Todd Berardi, the founder and president of Hiball, said the new packaging and formulation was done in response to consumer demand for a larger-sized and more portable option for Hiball, as well as the continuing shift toward consumption of healthier ingredients.

“We knew it was a big change switching from glass bottles to cans, but we realized it would allow us… to offer premium organic ingredients in a 60 percent larger package that was fully recyclable,” Berardi said. “People that are health-conscious or people have either graduated from other mainstream energy drinks, but also people that would probably never think about consuming those drinks. We see a huge market in people that still want energy, but don’t want to sacrifice health.”

Following a positive debut at Natural Products Expo West in March, the revamped Hiball line gained new distribution in a variety of natural and mainstream retail channels. HiBall launched in over 250 Whole Foods Market stores nationwide through United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI), and is also on shelves at Safeway, and, according to sources close to the company, Kroger will begin to carry the energy drink as well. Nevertheless, Berardi said that the natural channel will continue to be the starting point for building the brand.

“We’re obviously bullish on the future with our new package and new formula, so we feel like there’s a lot of channels that we can enter into in the future, but we’re going to continue to build the brand in the natural channel for now,” Berardi said.

Watch this recent with interview with BevNET CEO John Craven who sat down with Berardi to discuss Hiball’s revamped look and formulation, plans to announce new agreements with DSD houses for distribution in mainstream outlets, including mass, club and drug over the next year, and the operational challenges associated with increased volume of the energy drink.