Already known for its portfolio of all-natural and organic products, Brooklyn-based High 5 Distributors has made the move to a strictly vegan product mix. Citing personal and ethical reasons, Steve Torres, the founder of High 5, stated that the company has stopped carrying all non-vegan beverages and snacks, and noted that all new and current High 5-distributed products also undergo an examination to determine that the ingredients are never tested on animals.
Founded in 2009, High 5 distributes in the five boroughs of New York City and sells a range of beverages, specialty foods, snacks, and a small number of household cleaners. Torres, a vegan himself, said that it would be “hypocritical and ruthless of us as company to make products readily available to consumers that we reject on a personal level due to the exploitation of animals.”
One of the casualties of High 5’s decision to go vegan was Wolfgang Puck Iced Coffee, a blend of milk, sugar and coffee. High 5 ceased distribution of the line in fall of 2011. According to Torres, the brand’s non-vegan-status aside, Wolfgang Puck was facing a tough uphill battle against the Pepsi-distributed Starbucks Frappuccino and hadn’t yet caught on at many retail outlets.
Nevertheless, Torres welcomed the opportunity to carry new and innovative products, only stipulating that they be vegan and have enough sampling and marketing support from their suppliers. He stated that High 5 will likely pick up 2-3 new beverage brands later this spring, and is aiming to launch a new, non-mainstream beverage in May, one that he called “pioneering” for the beverage industry.
“I lean towards getting those innovative products,” Torres said. “That’s what it’s all about for me.”
High 5 currently carries Powerball Energy and Pitaya Plus, as well as a number of children’s drinks including Tummy Tickler, First Juice and Belly Washers. High 5 recently added fulvic acid-infused blk Water and Smart Juice, a line of fresh-pressed organic juices to its beverage mix. Torres called the launch of Smart Juice “dynamite,” and while he acknowledged that it will take a heavy dose of consumer education to sell blk, the product was “doing well.”