Hot Expo West Exclusives: Hiball, Aloe Gloe, Zola, Activate – Coconut Everywhere, and Functional, Natural, Alkaline Aren’t Far Behind

Hiball, which revamped its entire certified-organic energy drink line earlier this year, is debuting two new varieties at Expo West starting on Friday. Both Hiball Organic Pomegranate/Acai – a 120-calorie  blend made with organic juice and organic/fair trade sugar – and Hiball Peach Sparkling Energy Water – a zero-calorie energy water made with Hiball’s certified-organic energy blend – will go into Whole Foods for a 90-day exclusive starting on April 1.

Both products will be packaged in the same 16 oz. cold-activated can that has energized the brand’s growth since its packaging switch late last year.

Meanwhile, Hiball founder Todd Berardi confirmed that the brand is also working on a 15 oz. organic Hiball coconut water for release later in the year.

Hi-Ball’s L.A. Libations stablemate Aloe Gloe – a brand started by L.A. Libations co-founder Danny Stepper – has also begun to expand its line, releasing a 1 Liter Tetra-Pak of its “Crisp Aloe” variety. The company has also gotten organic certification for the product line, which is pre-approved in Ralph’s, Fresh & Easy stores, and Los Angeles-area Costco warehouses.

Stepper said the company plans a major expansion of Aloe Gloe in the spring. It is now the top-ranked aloe brand in Southern California grocery stores, according to AC Nielsen, passing ALO at mid-year in 2012.

“We feel comfortable enough,” with the concept, Stepper said, “that this reset season (Spring 2013) we are expanding outside of California with Kroger, Safeway, Supervalu, and Costco.”

Also gearing up for expansion is recently-diversified superfruit company Zola, which launched a 17.5 oz. canned coconut water brand of its own last year – taking a largely conventional store tack via Safeway rather than focusing on Whole Foods – and which has added a 17.5 oz. Coconut Water with Pulp to its line. That SKU will be on display at Expo West.

CEO Chris Cuvelier is trumpeting strong growth for the company, calling 2012 its best year ever with sales nearly doubling. Over the past half-year, Zola’s 1 L Tetra-Pak size has become the fastest-growing and fastest-turning coconut water SKU in U.S. conventional grocery, according to Nielsen sales information supplied by Cuvelier.

Most coconut water brands are moving away from the meaty pulp of the base fruit, but according to Cuvelier, “we represent the most accurate, respectful use of all of our source ingredients, from Acai to coconut.” The pulp-included variety is more consistent with traditional canned coconut water brands as well, particularly those from Thailand, where Zola sources its product.

Finally, Activate Water, best known for its reservoir cap lines, is in the midst of a major portfolio restructure. Behind new president Reza Mirza, the company plans to move to a three-tier line – with a new Expo West introduction at part of its least expensive, traditionally-capped bottled water base. Having already killed a de-ionized bottled water sku (“We’re Activate,” Mirza told BevNET. “Our waters should do something, and de-ionized is the opposite of that.”), the company launched an electrolyte-enhanced bottled water in January. Now, it’s capitalizing on the lower-pH+ craze-of-the-moment to roll out an alkaline water. Activate Alkalized Water + Electrolytes Alkaline will be launching at Expo West and rolling out this summer, according to Mirza.

Soon to come is another traditional still water product, and then new efforts behind the cap-activated nutrient enhanced line with which the brand is best identified. According to Mirza, that line will include its current, vitamin-based nutrient enhancement, as well as a higher-end tier that promises “true functionality.” The company is aiming to introduce those products later in the year or early next year, Mirza said.