Distribution Roundup: Activate Drinks Expands in the East, KonaRed Enters Canada, Cheerwine Heads to the Pacific Northwest

Starting this month, every mush and townie has the chance to figure out how to work a twist cap.

Activate Drinks, which entered the East Coast less than one year ago, announced Monday that it has expanded its footprint by securing distribution in Stop & Shop and Shaw’s, two grocers that make up 30 percent of the total food stores in the region, according to a Nielsen report.

The nutrient-enhanced water, which aims to keep vitamins fresh with a twist cap, will be available in 400 Stop & Shop locations and placed in the enhanced beverage section. The retailer will carry six varieties from Activate’s portfolio, including Activate Beauty: Exotic Berry, Activate Defy: Pomegranate Blue, Active Defend: Orange, Activate Charged: Grape and Lemon Lime and Activate Balance: Fruit Punch. The beverage will be available in 148 Shaw’s stores.

Activate has already been available for the past year at Market Basket in New England and has achieved double-digit growth throughout the New York metro market, according to a release.

“This new distribution will certainly increase our efforts to make Activate Drinks a household name,” Reza Mirza, president of Activate Drinks, said in the release, “and we look forward to the brand’s continued expansion throughout the country.”

KonaRed, which is becoming a regular name in this roundup, announced Tuesday that it has entered retailers across Canada. The antioxidant-rich beverage made with Hawaiian coffee fruit brings two 16 oz. SKUs, Original and Lite, to more than 180 stores in Canada such as Whole Foods, Choices Markets, Planet Organic and other independent grocery stores and chains.

In western Canada, KonaRed is working with Horizon Distributors and UNFI West. In the Toronto region, the company is working with Corwin Distributors.

“KonaRed’s breakthrough ingredient, coffee fruit, is a new concept in Canada, but its health benefits are astounding. We look forward to growing the brand across Canada with further penetration into the major retail chains,” Zach Wilczewski, director of sales, said in a release.

Shortly after striking a deal with advertising agency BooneOakley and stating national its ambitions, Cheerwine has already announced its first move. On Wednesday, the self-proclaimed “soft-drink of the south” announced that it had secured distribution in the Pacific Northwest.

In the middle of October, Cheerwine began distributing to Olympia, Wash., with distribution from Walton Beverage, a local Pepsi distributor.

In a release, Tom Barbitta, senior vice president of marketing and sales, said that Cheerwine has made a commitment to enter all 50 states by 2017, the company’s 100-year anniversary. He also said that the company deliberately identified Idaho, Oregon and Washington as the best region to entrench the brand at the beginning of the rollout.

“The independent Pepsi bottles and Pepsi Beverages Company will help us integrate the Cheerwine brand throughout the region. These are very effective Pepsi bottlers that are deeply ingrained into their communities,” Barbitta said in the release. “They know how to get the chores done.”