When Caliwater made its debut at the Natural Products Expo West trade show in 2014, the prickly pear cactus juice product was amongst an influx of plant-based beverages – aloe water, maple water, and artichoke water among them – that had recently emerged looking to draft on the success of coconut water. In the two years since, the brand’s undergone a packaging redesign, reformulated to become not-from-concentrate and achieved non-GMO Project verification. Now it’s adding new flavors. So when Caliwater returns to the Anaheim Convention Center next month, it won’t be as much an unproven prospect but more a weathered contender in its category.
In a call with BevNET, Caliwater co-founder Matt Mckee revealed the new additions to the product line: Cactus + Peach and Cactus + Berry flavors, which marry the company’s locally harvested prickly pears with California-sourced peach and strawberry purees, respectively.
“We didn’t just want to add a natural flavor or two to the original formulation,” said McKee. “Using these purees makes for such a true, fresh taste experience.”
The brand’s commitment to its California roots – further emphasized by the use of locally-sourced peaches and wild harvested strawberries for the new flavors – is another component to Caliwater that McKee says separates the product from its coconut water comparisons.
[Coconut water] has always been the taste of the tropics and with Caliwater, we’re looking to communicate that bohemian, California vibe and lifestyle,” Mckee added.
The launch of the new flavors at the top of 2016 follows what was a year of high-profile media placements for cactus water – Elle, Vogue and Marie Claire to name a few, along with notable gains in distribution for Caliwater, whose sales and marketing are represented by Cascadia Managing Brands. Now available in 1,600 stores across the U.S., the brand entered Whole Foods’ Rocky Mountain region last April. In July, the company signed on with Nature’s Best Powered by KeHe, the second largest distributor of health and natural food products. Then in September, Caliwater entered 259 Cost Plus World Market stores nationwide.
Category competitor True Nopal Cactus Water, which also launched in 2014, has been reporting strong gains in distribution as well for its own, from-concentrate cactus water. The Arizona-based brand achieved nationwide distribution last May, when it reported the it was now in 4,000 stores across the country, including several regions of Whole Foods, Raley’s HEB, Big Y, and Shaw’s supermarkets.
On the horizon, Caliwater has been approved at Sprouts Farmer’s Markets and will begin entering the southwest grocery chain over the coming months. Mckee added that the company is continuing to work towards achieving organic certification for its wild-harvested crops.