Distribution Roundup: Drink Chia Goes National, Bai Agrees With FreshDirect, Double Cola Goes Home

To understand the direction of a category, take a look at the scale of its expansion.

Three companies — Bai Brands, Drink Chia and Double Cola — announced news of expanded distribution this morning. Drink Chia, a growing part of a hot category, and Bai, a coffeefruit-infused beverage, both claimed new distribution in major marketplaces. Meanwhile, Double Cola announced regional expansion.

Drink Chia, a chia seed beverage, announced that it will enter all 622 Vitamin Shoppe store locations across the U.S., Puerto Rico and Ontario this week.

“Americans are increasingly aware of the dangers of sugar consumption and are starting to take a stand against sugary drinks,” Drink Chia co-founder Chandra Davis said in a release. “At Drink Chia, we’re pleased to offer a solution that is healthy, natural and delicious. Through our partnership with the Vitamin Shoppe, it can now be enjoyed by Americans everywhere.”

Drink Chia, which is available Strawberry Citrus, Honeysuckle Pear, Mango Tangerine and Lemon Blueberry, claims to be the chia drink with the lowest calories (50 per serving) and sugar (5 grams) on the market. The chia seeds give the beverage 1,100 mg of omega-3 essential fatty acids and doses of fiber, antioxidants and B-complex vitamins.

In January, Drink Chia secured distribution agreements with UNFI and KEHE, which increased its footprint in the Northeast, Midwest and Florida. In the same month, the company increased the size of its bottles from 8 oz. to 10 oz. In June, Drink Chia announced distribution in Canada. With its entry into Vitamin Shoppe stores, the company joins Mamma Chia as the only other nationally-distributed chia beverage. Distribution player LA Libations recently invested in Chia\Vie, which could be up next.

While Bai hasn’t yet reached a national scope, the company has strengthened its footprint in the Northeast by reaching an agreement with online grocer FreshDirect, which serves the New York City metropolitan area, Nassau, Westchester and Fairfield Counties and parts of New Jersey and Philadelphia.

“We’re excited about working with FreshDirect to expand the choices they offer to customers,” Ben Weiss, founder and CEO of Bai, said in a release. “Our companies have a lot in common, including a focus on delivering products that are good and good for you.”

FreshDirect, known for its healthy offerings and innovative delivery methods, will provide free samples of Bai with eligible customer orders for a limited time. Bai flavors available through the grocer include Brasilia Blueberry, Congo Pear, Costa Rica Clementine, Ipanema Pomegranate, Limu Lemon, Malawi Mango, Molokai Coconut, Panama Peach and Sumatra Dragronfruit. The beverages are vegan, gluten-free and kosher.

FreshDirect hasn’t been alone with its faith in Bai. In June, Strand Equity Partners, a young investment firm, acquired a minority ownership stake in Bai, calling it a “game-changing company.” Earlier that month, Weiss promoted sales and marketing executive Ken Kurtz to company president.

Meanwhile, the Double Cola Company has added distribution in northwest Georgia; a historically significant region for the company.

In 1936, a few years after Double Cola’s initial launch, the company built a plant in Rome, Ga., a small town about 70 miles northwest of Atlanta. The plant survived for about 50 years until it was shut down. Then about 10 years ago, an orthodontist purchased the old plant site for his business and preserved the Double Cola sign out front.

The company returns to this area after gaining distribution throughout the rest of the state earlier this year via its partnership with the Atlanta Beverage Company.

“The sales team visiting local retailers frequently is asked by consumers where and when they can purchased Double Cola,” Mitch Reed, the company’s director of sales, said in a release. “Some of the consumers will even tell stories of local residents that worked at the bottling plant and often relive memories from a time when they enjoyed Double Cola in returnable bottles.”

If you can’t celebrate major expansion, you can at least enjoy nostalgia.