You won’t need a sting operation to catch this marionberry — only a Whole Foods nearby.
In July, ‘tude will launch six new juice flavors: Marionberry Apple, Blueberry Apple, Cranberry Apple, Apple Ginger, Lemonade and Apple, and Apple, Ginger and Turmeric.
The launch will take place in Whole Foods Markets in 26 states from seven regions: the Pacific Northwest, Northern California, Southern California, the Southwest, the Rocky Mountain region, the South and the North Atlantic, said Andy Knowlton, co-founder of Grandview, Wash.-based ‘tude.
He added that ‘tude’s existing products have received non-GMO verification. As a result, the company is revamping the labels, which will be released in time for the Whole Foods placement. Knowlton said that he’s in the process of receiving the verification for the new flavors, which he said isn’t much of a stretch.
Through distribution with UNFI, Whole Foods will take on a combination of the brand’s six existing apple juice flavors and the new flavors, which will sell for $3.49 to $3.99 per 12 oz. bottle. Knowlton said that the Pacific Northwest and the North Atlantic will take on the new flavors, and that more could do the same, but he’s still waiting to hear back from the retailer’s other regions. ‘tude will begin production of the new flavors in mid to late May.
The new flavors, which are combined with apple juice to prevent an overwhelming sweetness, follow ‘tude’s strategy of marketing juice that tastes like biting into the fruit itself. The berries deployed in three of the new flavors, Marionberry Apple, Blueberry Apple and Cranberry Apple, are sourced from nearby Yakima Valley. This contributes not only an added layer of freshness, but also a feeling of local pride for Knowlton. The ubiquity of apples helps preserve a kind of reputation brewing in the Northwest, where they’re known as the apple guys.
“We don’t want to stray too far away from our core roots and become everything to everybody,” Knowlton said. “We want to see what we can do within our expertise.”
Knowlton said that he likes the idea of striking this deal with Whole Foods because of the retailer’s dedication to the brand from its infancy, well before ‘tude was one of six finalists in BevNET’s New Beverage Showdown in June 2013. Back in July 2012, ‘tude garnered shelf placements in Metropolitan Markets in Seattle. Only a few months later, in November 2012, ‘tude landed its first shelf placements in Whole Foods Markets in the Pacific Northwest.
Whole Foods consumers align with ‘tude’s target demographic, Knowlton said, because they’re interested in natural, high-quality products. He added that it’s nice to have the reassurance of such a trusted retailer.
“When people go into Whole Foods, they trust that it’s meeting Whole Foods expectations,” he said.
However, even with the new distribution and the new flavors, Knowlton keeps a humble view of his situation. After all, this is the beverage industry.
“This doesn’t mean anything,” he said, “unless the regions adopt it.”