Pitaya Plus Green Shoots Equals Whole Foods

Fast-growing UNFI-alternative natural foods distributor Green Shoots has added a pair of beverages to its portfolio, helping open the door for at least one embryonic juice brand.

Green Shoots founder Nat Noone revealed Friday that three Whole Foods regions had picked up Pitaya Plus in an exclusive arrangement that will have the drink in 120 stores by the end of February, including Northern and Southern California and the Rocky Mountain region.

According to Pitaya Plus founder Chuck Casano, the goal is to be in 150 Whole Foods before the end of June.

“Everyone in the garage, I mean office, was doing back-flips when we got the news,” Casano told supporters in an email.

Pitaya Plus, made from the Pitaya, or Dragon Fruit, contains antioxidants, Omega 3 oils and dietary fiber. Noone expressed enthusiasm for the brand’s social mission, which revolves around supporting single mothers and small individually owned farms in poverty-striken areas of Nicaragua.

Meanwhile, to make room for the brand, Green Shoots has ended its distribution arrangement with the acai juice brand Sambazon, which it had carried in many channels although not Whole Foods.

“They’re going to be our player in the antioxidant category,” Noone said, distinguishing Pitaya from his main horse in the distribution race, Columbia Gorge Organic juices.Green Shoots has plans to open a D.C. office in late February.

Meanwhile, the distributor is also deepening its involvement with Give Water, the brand started by company co-owner Ben Lewis. In addition to the cause-oriented bottled water, plans are in place for Green Shoots to start carrying the Lewis-helmed Tonic shot line into many Whole Foods.