Coconut Water Makers See Change in New Year

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Coconut water, a product category currently surging as a result of the intense marketing efforts of three highly motivated firms, is poised for change in 2010.



Vita Coco founder Michael Kirban told the crowd gathered at this week’s BevNET Live conference that he expected to see “bastardizations” of coconut water in 2010. Those products, he said, may take the form of sports drink or other functional beverages using coconut water as an ingredient. Specifically, he said, he wouldn’t be surprised to see a Gatorade product with coconut water in it.



One of his competitors may have something similar in mind. O.N.E. founders Rodrigo and Emily Veloso said their company is preparing three or four new products for release in the new year. Asked whether those products would be flavor or size variations, the husband and wife pair said they would be “very different.”



Kirban said that Vita Coco is planning new flavored coconut waters with more mainstream appeal – though he wouldn’t specify what those flavors were.



Those planned products mark a new stage in the coconut water category. Since the three firms started pushing the products toward non-ethnic American consumers, product innovations have come in the form of new packages, or coconut water accented with tropical fruit flavors.



While O.N.E. and Vita Coco plan new products, ZICO, now backed by The Coca-Cola Co.’s Venturing and Emerging Brands unit will not emphasize new products in 2010. Mark Rampolla, founder and CEO of ZICO said his company will focus deepening its penetration in its existing markets and opening new markets.



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