Vita Coco Broadens Coconut to Kids

Vita Coco, the number one-selling coconut water brand in the U.S., introduced Vita Coco Kids to the market in June. Made with coconut water, filtered water, natural fruit flavors and vitamin C, the beverages, which come in wedge-shaped 6 oz. Tetra Pak containers with an attached straw, were scheduled to hit shelves beginning in July.

Vita Coco co-founder Mike Kirban cited his two young children as the inspiration for the new line.

“After becoming a parent it was frustrating to see how many artificial, sugary drinks were being marketed to children their age,” Kirban said in a statement. “I knew Vita Coco could create a healthier drink for kids, and we did.”

Vita Coco Kids comes in three flavors  – Apple Island, Paradise Punch and Very Cherry Beach — and will be sold in 6-packs for a for a suggested retail price of $4.99. The products will be distributed nationwide at major retailers including Target and, and the new line will roll out in Wegmans and Safeway stores in the coming months. The launch is being supported by an out-of-home advertising campaign in several major markets.


Goodbelly Changes Its Look

As rising waves of demand attract new entrants into the probiotic beverage category, GoodBelly recently made a few significant moves to stand out from the crowd.

After a highly successful test launch of new black-colored packaging for its line of single-serve shot products, Goodbelly has introduced a revamped look for its entire line of ready-to-drink beverages. Goodbelly’s quart-sized probiotic drinks now feature jet black cartons as well as retooled labeling that the company expects to have a dynamic impact on sales for the brand. Goodbelly also recently unveiled a gluten-free sub-line and a new carrot/ginger flavor.

GoodBelly launched the transition to black packaging for its shot line about nine months ago, and Todd Beckman, co-founder and COO, said that the change propelled an eight-fold increase in sales of the products. The new look offered a premium look that stood out on the shelf among competing brands, Beckman said, and noted that the move to black for its quart sizes would offer a “powerful block” on the shelf for GoodBelly.

The new packages also more prominently display the word “probiotics” and play down messaging of “digestive health.” Beckman cited rising awareness and understanding about probiotic beverages, particularly as they relate to the benefits of the products, as reasons for the shift in branding.

Unlike its other products, GoodBelly’s new gluten-free offerings are made with a unique oat and contain no barley. Certified gluten-free by NSF International and non-GMO verified, the drinks are currently made with some non-organic ingredients, but Beckman said that once GoodBelly can source an organic version of the oats that it uses for the products, the company will adjust the formulation.

Goodbelly’s gluten-free flavors are differentiated by green caps and include Tropical Orange, Pink Grapefruit, Coconut Water, and a new Carrot Ginger variety, which is the first probiotic vegetable juice on the market, according to Beckman. The Carrot Ginger flavor will launch next week in a three-month exclusive with Whole Foods. Beckman said that the company will support the introduction with heavy demos and a new marketing initiative focused on social media.

Evian Revamps Bottle

With fast-rising competitors marketing their bottles as an embodiment of sleekness and modernity, Evian felt the need for a change.

For the first time in 14 years, the naturally-filtered water brand has updated its bottle design. Evian, which is owned by the French food and beverage company Danone, has traded the contoured bottle for a smoother surface.

Evian’s decision to revamp the bottle was spurred by other high-end bottled water brands such as Voss and FIJI. These companies, which are known for their luxury-inspired, stylish packages, have gained market share at the expense of Evian.

According to SymphonyIRI, a Chicago-based market research firm, dollar sales of Evian dollar sales increased by just 1.55 percent over the past 52 weeks ending on Jan. 27 in the multi-outlet channel, which includes convenience stores, supermarkets, drugstores, mass market retailers, gas stations, military commissaries and select club and dollar chains. Meanwhile, dollar sales of Voss leaped by nearly 91 percent in those retail channels over the same period of time.

“What the other waters did was put pressure on us to contemporize Evian,” Eric O’Toole, president of Danone Waters North America, told the Associated Press. “We realized that our bottle had become a little bit old and dated.”


New Belgium Delays Construction

It’ll take just a little bit longer than expected for Fat Tire to be brewed on the East Coast.

Although New Belgium Brewing Company had initially planned for its new Asheville, N.C. brewery to be functional by early 2015, the company has delayed construction of the facility about eight months.

Citing recent capacity upgrades at its brewery in Fort Collins, Colo. New Belgium now expects the buildout of the Asheville brewery to begin in 2014, company spokesman Bryan Simpson told Early plans had called for construction of the new brewery to begin as early as August of this year.

“After we put that 70,000 barrels of additional capacity in at the Fort Collins brewery, we thought that we might be able complete the construction in Asheville without turning everybody’s hair gray,” he said.

And because capacity from the new brewery is no longer needed to fill New Belgium’s immediate sales demand, construction crews for the city of Asheville will be able to complete projects on surrounding roadways without any inconvenience, Simpson said.

“With deconstruction in Asheville wrapping up, our plan is to operate at maximum efficiency in Fort Collins and bring Asheville online at just the right moment,” Simpson said in a press statement. “Along with our construction partners and the City of Asheville, we look forward to using the additional time to balance the many elements of such a dynamic project.”

Initial brewing capacity at New Belgium’s Asheville location will be 400,000 barrels. The facility could end up reaching 750,000 barrels of production after a second phase of construction.

Investment Bank: Beer Rollups are Coming

Following the agreement between Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) and the U.S. Department of Justice, as the dust settled and the components were parceled, Constellation Brands secured a coup of its own.

While ABI bought the stake in Grupo Modelo that it didn’t already own for $20.1 billion, Constellation bought the 50 percent of Modelo brands sold in the U.S. by Crown Imports, a leading importer of Corona, that it didn’t already own for $2.9 billion. This also gave Constellation the rights to Modelo’s brewery in Piedras Negras, Mexico.

This coup shifted the landscape for Constellation and its subsidiary and venture partner, Crown, enabling the companies to explore and possibly invest in the still-growing craft beer industry.

“It opens the horizon,” Crown president Bill Hackett said of the agreement. “We are completely unshackled.”

Right on cue, less than one week after the settlement, Jeff Menashe, CEO of the Demeter Group, a San Francisco-based investment bank, assembled a presentation for Constellation titled Why Craft Beer is Next. The presentation explained how the Modelo deal could transform Constellation’s future and lead the company and its investors toward craft beer.

Menashe believes that investors have reached a greater level of comfort with the craft beer industry because it’s further proven itself in the marketplace by displaying consistent years of growth.

“Craft has become big enough and it’s not looking as though there’s any reason for it to sort of fall from that position,” Menashe said.

The presentation noted that over the past year, Constellation’s 123 wine brands and seven spirits brands pulled in $2.8 billion in revenue, while Crown’s four beer brands, highlighted by Corona, pulled in $2.6 billion. This imbalance explains the power of beer’s revenue and the potential need for more beer brands. The presentation also noted that unlike the craft beer industry, the current depth of the wine market leaves little space for growth. Menashe doesn’t see any extra space for premium glass, super premium and ultra premium wine brands.

Yet despite their divergent growth rates, Menashe mentioned several similarities between the two segments; both come at a premium price, appeal to millennials, focus on style and depend on a back story. This story can talk about the ingredients, the geographical association or the brand personality, but no matter the details, it steadily aims to give the brand a human dimension.

As wine’s growth subsides and craft beer’s growth continues to increase, the similarities between these segments could smooth Constellation’s transition to craft beer, according to Menashe.

“I think that the craft and those wine brands I’m referring to are tracking or are trying to speak to the same consumer,” he said.

Hackett said that he’s constantly talking with craft brands, and while he hasn’t yet struck a deal, he envisions significant moves in the near future. He also said that Crown’s 15 warehouses across the country and advanced distribution system will allow whatever brand it picks up to reach the right markets at a quick rate.

“I think we’re just on the cusp of expanding our business,” Hackett said.