Frava Makes Midwest Push, Scores Distribution Deal with Target

Having carved out distribution in over 500 retailers in the New York metro market, Frava, a line of naturally caffeinated juice drinks, is making its way to middle America, and, later this year, into one of the largest mass retail chains in the country.

Launched by co-founders Evan Berman, Geoff Karas and Chloe Goldman, Frava — which takes its name from the words “fruit” and “java” (the caffeine is sourced from green coffee beans) — has steadily increased its presence in Nassau County and Manhattan, with distribution through a mix of retail and foodservice wholesalers, including Drink King Distributing, Island Fresh and Coffee Distributing Corp. The company recently announced its first deal outside metro New York, signing an agreement with Bernick’s, a Pepsi, MillerCoors and specialty beverages distributor servicing Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Frava’s deal with Bernick’s will take the brand into Holiday Station Stores, a convenience store chain with 473 locations in 10 states from Alaska to Michigan. Frava will be distributed chain-wide in Holiday stores, nearly doubling the brand’s retail footprint.

“To have the opportunity to partner with a distributor as experienced, respected and established as Bernick’s is not something we take lightly,” Alex Portin, CMO, Frava said in a statement. “People know Holiday. Now we just need to get them to know Frava.”

Certainly, trial and awareness will be critical to the launch in Holiday Stores, and while the company has yet to add a sales manager for the Midwest, Portin said that Frava, a finalist in BevNET Live’s New Beverage Showdown 3,  is in the midst of a new round of funding, including an crowdfunding campaign via IndieGoGo, in hopes of increasing sales support and production.

And it’s not just for current obligations that Frava will need the resources: mass retailer Target has agreed to a limited roll out in 50-250 stores beginning this summer. The deal comes amid plans to reformulate the product and remove Ace-K and sucralose in order to bring it in line with Whole Foods’ supplier guidelines, which prohibit artificial ingredients.

Although Frava is not explicitly marketed as an energy drink, Portin explained that through its development, the company realized that consumers seeking out a caffeinated beverage are, more often than not, reaching for a product from the energy set.

“If you’re looking for caffeine, you’re looking in the energy cooler,” Portin said.

While mega brands like Red Bull and Monster dominate the energy category, Portin sees value in being able to offer consumers a more nutritious offering, with its 40 percent juice content giving the brand a significant point of differentiation over competing products. The brand proposition is one that Steve Lunderborg, Holiday Stores’ Beverage Category Sales Manager, views as key to incremental revenue.

“It tastes great, picks you up, and any business person can appreciate the fact that they aren’t just going after the stereotypical energy drink consumer,” Lunderborg said.