Video: Visit with Zola’s Chris Cuvelier

During BevNET Live Winter 10 in Santa Monica, CA, I sat down with Chris Cuvelier, founder and CEO of Zola, which is one of the leading players in the ready-to-drink acai juice category.

For Chris, there’s a lot happening with his brand, starting with what he describes as the company’s “biggest month in history.” While this statement is partially sales related (Chris said it was the biggest sales month of the year), he was more focused on all of the other things that are in the works.

So what’s up? The first thing – and perhaps the most fundamental part of what’s going on – is that Zola is in the midst of expanding and repositioning their product offering to be more in line with the “Brazilian Superfruits” tagline that they adopted not so long ago. What this means is that acai is no longer going to be the common ingredient across the brand; now other Brazilian fruits, such as cupuacu and caja, will be getting their own distinct SKUs.

However, that’s not to say that they are ditching acai or dialing back their support for that part of their lineup. Chris says that he sees “a ton of growth in acai” and instead is looking to build a brand that’s led by the erstwhile “miracle berry” as the flagship product.

For Cuvelier, the timing is right to bet on Brazil, with the 2012 Olympics and 2014 FIFA World Cup set to be hosted in that country. Still, marketing fruit that’s still relatively unheard of and hard to pronounce (watch me mess it up in the video) is going to be an uphill battle for the brand.

Fortunately for Zola, they appear to be conscious of the challenges that are ahead. They’ve added two key hires to the team, Craig Decker (formerly of Kombucha Wonder Drink) in sales and Matt Collins (formerly of Metromint) as the new COO. Also, they are going to be making changes to the product, with packaging changes planned to help better communicate the nutritional benefits. Finally, the brand has recently announced a relationship with Jamba Juice and their first DSD distributor in New Age (Denver, CO). Chris promises that there will be a lot of exciting stuff happening for the brand in Q1 and Q2 2011, including some big product announcements at Expo West.

In the video, hear Chris talk more about what’s going on for Zola and their plans for 2011.