Hiball Gets Into the Coconut Water Biz

In the midst of dramatic leaps in the distribution of its organic energy drinks, Hiball is set to launch a first of its kind energy-infused organic coconut water — with a chocolate-flavored variety not far behind.

Hiball Coconut Water is a non-carbonated product is made with 100 percent organic coconut water sourced from the Philippians and infused with brand’s proprietary blend of energy ingredients, which includes organic caffeine, ginseng and guarana. Hiball founder Todd Berardi told BevNET that the hybrid, multifunctional product is aimed at energy drink consumers seeking additional benefits of hydration and recovery that are commonly associated with coconut water. The beverage will debut nationally at Whole Foods, which has a 90 day exclusive on the beverage beginning on June 1.

Additionally, Hiball is in the final stages of development for a chocolate-flavored line extension that Berardi hopes to launch on Aug. 1. The beverage contains 85 percent coconut water and is made with organic, Fair Trade-certified cocoa and sugar. Berardi described the product as more of an indulgent drink than the regular coconut water, but noted that the chocolate variety will contain a reasonable calorie count — under 140 per 15 oz. can.

Berardi noted that the products have been in development for about a year and played a significant role in the brand’s packaging shift from glass bottles to aluminum cans. With a retail price tag of $3.99, the beverages are certainly positioned as premium products, yet Berardi said the price is justified by the rather expensive cost to produce the drinks. In addition to using high quality ingredients, the beverages must undergo a complex cold fill process in order to make them shelf-stable and maintain an 18-month shelf life.

Although the can that Hiball uses for its coconut water will – unlike its other cans – not feature a cold-activated label, the new package has been a boon for the company and key driver of distribution gains in natural and grocery channels. In recent weeks, Hiball has landed new retail authorizations at Wegmans, Sprouts and nationally at Safeway, where the brand is positioned in the mainline energy set in 1,400 of the grocer’s locations and in the natural set in the remaining 500 stores. Additionally, Hiball will be sold in specialty retailers Fresh & Easy and Lunds/Byerlys this month and, in perhaps the biggest win for the brand, gain shelf space for its entire product line at 1,500 Kroger and Kroger-affiliated stores.

Berardi hopes to continue the brand’s tremendous gains in distribution, and will look to expand and solidify availability of Hiball. He noted that the company is currently evaluating new opportunities in club, mass, drug and DSD channels through its partnership with brand incubator L.A. Libations.

With year over year sales growth well into the triple digits, Berardi sees the new coconut water products as a key to maintaining, and even surpassing, its upward surge. And despite a category that nearing saturation, Berardi said that Hiball’s coconut water is not coming into compete with current brands. Rather, the new product is “doing something different” and that at its heart, Hiball remains an energy drink company first and foremost.