White space is hard to come by in the energy category, but Mamma Chia has introduced a new line that founder and CEO Janie Hoffman sees as filling a gap in the sub-segment often referred to as “clean energy.”
Making its debut at the Summer Fancy Food Show, the company yesterday introduced Mamma Chia Vitality + Energy, an extension of its popular line of chia drinks. Like the original Vitality line, the organic beverages are made with hydrated chia seeds and fruit juice, with the new energy products coming with 90 mg of caffeine sourced from guayusa. In place of agave nectar, which the company uses in its flagship line, Vitality + Energy drinks are sweetened with cane sugar, which blends well with guayusa, Hoffman explained.
Packaged in 10 oz. glass bottles, the new line will launch in September with product coming online in approximately half of UNFI warehouses around the same time. Retail availability will begin with a 300-store test at Target, as well as select Whole Foods regions, Safeway stores and other natural and independent grocers, where the drinks will have a suggested retail price of $2.99.
An energy product has been in the development for some time, Hoffman said, having viewed natural and organic entries in the segment as consumer options that are perhaps “‘better for you,’ but not necessarily ‘good for you,’” Hoffman said. With packaging that calls out the products’ high Omega-3 content, antioxidants, protein and fiber, she described Vitality + Energy as “an entirely new class of energy drinks.”
Notably, the guayusa is being supplied by Runa, which has long been associated with the ingredient, and markets a range of bagged, RTD and, interestingly enough, a “clean energy” line of drinks. Runa has for years cultivated deep relationships to organic guayusa farmers in Ecuador, establishing a steady pipeline for the ingredient.
Hoffman explained that the relationship between Mamma Chia and Runa sprung from food and beverage developer Grace Venus who had created the original formulations for both companies’ RTD products. Venus had been tapped to create the formulation for Mamma Chia’s a energy line, and in the midst of development, Runa reached out to the company and suggested guayusa as the source caffeine for the new products.
In this video, filmed on location at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, we spoke with Hoffman about the new Vitality + Energy line, discussing more about the debut, formulation and timing of the introduction at the Fancy Food Show.