Expo West Intro: Cuvelier, Zola, Can Coconuts

Zola, long known as a purveyor of Brazilian superfruit juices like acai, mango, and cupuacu, has turned to trendy coconut water to broaden out its portfolio.

The company is launching a canned 17.5 oz. pure (not from concentrate) coconut water at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim next week. While acknowledging there has been something of a run on the category in recent months, with new companies entering almost weekly, Zola founder Chris Cuvelier says the company is promising a great tasting product to consumers.

“We’re throwing our hat in the ring,” he said. “We looked at the category, and obviously it’s growing. We had thought about broadening the brand for a long time — and we thought about doing coconut juice the Zola way.”

Zola is coming off a year in which it saw a deal with Safeway help pump up sales and reach record growth, Cuvelier told BevNET. The company’s sales were up 60 percent in 2011, and it recently was authorized in Duane Reade in New York City.

The company also recently added a Hawaiian distributor, Pint Size, and hired a new sales VP for the west, Tim Baggs.

“I still think there’s a lot of room for us with acai,” Cuvelier said, “But there’s a lot of room for us with coconut as well.”

The brand is known for its adherence to Brazilian superfruits, but the coconuts are from Thailand, according to the can.

“It does fit with the brand,” he said. “Coconuts are such a big part of Brazilian culture, and the category is growing like crazy.”