Expo West Intro: Rooibee Roo

Heather Howell, the chief tea officer of Rooibee Red Tea, has two kids — one aged eight, the other 10. Before a product launch, she throws feelers their way. Her daughter walks around with a Rooibee Red file folder. Does market research get better than that?

“I’ve got my own little focus group at home,” Howell said.

In her previous job as an executive at Humana, a health insurance company, Howell dove into the stats and demographics of childhood obesity. This led her to the beverage industry, a platform where she hopes to encourage young people to drink healthier beverages. It’s also why she knew, from her initial interview with Rooibee Red Tea, that a kids line was on the way.

Rooibee Roo, a caffeine-free tea marketed toward children, will make its debut at the upcoming Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim, Calif. According to the company, the tea is USDA organic, rich in antioxidants, gluten-free and has 100 percent of the recommended daily value of Vitamin C. Per 8 oz. bottle, the product contains 49 calories and 12 or fewer grams of sugar (the exact figures will be decided).

Available in multipacks of six bottles, the tea has a mass suggested retail price of $5.98 and, in smaller chains, $6.99. It will be available in three flavors — Dragon Fruit, Cherry and Mango — with Raspberry and Orange in the works.

After surveying a number of moms, the company decided on a screw top for the BPA-free bottles. This allows for greater portability and compatibility in, for example, parks and recreational facilities, Howell said.