Spindrift Soda Heads West

Hoping to take advantage of the vast access to fresh fruit in the state for use in its premium, locally-sourced drinks, Spindrift Soda is opening a West Coast facility in California wine country. The company, which produces a line of all-natural, fruit juice-infused sodas, has opened a new production facility in Healdsburg, California, and will begin distributing in the state later this week.

“California is the predominant player in everything fresh… with more raw fruit available than anywhere else in the country,” said Spindrift founder and CEO Bill Creelman. “Ultimately, we knew the only way to [best distribute on the West Coast] was to offer a California-squeezed, bottled, and based operation.”

Spindrift, which currently distributes its products as far west as Chicago, began producing test batches in California two years ago. To compete in the state, Creelman felt that his brand would need to maintain a very high quality for its juice and pulp component, and would otherwise be “vulnerable” to scrutiny by consumers predisposed to fresh ingredients.

While Creelman acknowledged that having two separate production facilities – particularly for a small company like his – would be complicated and pricey in the short term, he predicts that establishing bi-coastal operations will yield a supply chain that is, ultimately, more efficient.

Creelman also pointed out the environmental benefits of West Coast base of operations with regard to ingredient sourcing and shipping. Creelman stressed that “we take that stuff seriously,” and noted that Spindrift is a member of 1% for the Planet, a group of companies that donate at least one percent of annual net revenues to environmental organizations.

On the East Coast, Spindrift works with a number of non-traditional beverage distributors, including meat, cheese, and produce houses, to deliver product to retail outlets, most of which are specialty and gourmet food stores. The company will attempt to duplicate a similar distribution network in California, and will get a significant boost from Green Shoots Distribution. Spindrift recently signed with the natural products distributor, which will begin placing the sodas in Whole Foods stores in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic beginning next week, and in California sometime in the near future.

Though Creelman expressed some trepidation in the recent and rapid growth of his company – “I’m not a believer in ‘big,’” he said – he noted that he was very excited about the ability to introduce the concept of a fresh fruit soda in California, and continues to be primarily focused on the consistency of Spindrift sodas and their high quality ingredients.

“I am concerned about the concept of ‘going big’, so, for us, it’s about going into the right places with the right distribution, and supporting the brand the right way,” Creelman said.