Core Organics is coming.
The six-SKU, five-calorie flavored water/juice blend, an organic and non-GMO certified, antioxidant-enhanced stablemate to water brand Core Hydration, is currently selling in Bristol Farms and a few other upscale groceries in Southern California right now, founder Lance Collins confirmed today.
Collins elaborated a bit on the rollout plan for the new Core Organics platform, which he said had been in development for about 18 months — around the time he started another sales test for the distinctively packaged Core Hydration line, which is pitched as having an alkalinity level of 7.4, the same as water in the human body.
While the idea behind the Bristol Farms test run is to tinker with the product’s appearance — one final nit was changing the “5 calories per bottle” badge from a circle to a four-sided “flag” — the company is by no means ready to start speeding into the market, Collins said.
“We want to test it and get it up to the bridge before we cross it,” said Collins, who also launched Fuze and Body Armor. “I think we’re pretty close. Nothing has been definitively determined yet, however.”
But the current Core DSD network will play a prominent role in route-to-market discussions in the next two months, added the company’s president, Paul Nadel.
“We will look to the [Core] Hydration network first,” Nadel said. “Those conversations will happen in earnest in January.”
Those might fall on increasingly receptive ears: Core Hydration has, after all, had a successful first year with prominent independent distributors, Collins said. He pegged projected revenues at $15 million as it has started from its March, 2015 introduction with New York powerhouse Big Geyser to add other houses like Kalil in Arizona, Columbia in the Pacific Northwest, and Haralambos and John Lenore in California. Some of those distributors are also investors, Nadel noted.
Haralambos Distributing is handling Core Organics during the Southern California test, Collins said.
The competitive set for the product is a wide range of non-carbonated functional drinks, according to the Core team — products ranging from Diet Snapple to Suja, along with Bai, also a five-calorie antioxidant-infused water/juice hybrid that has been growing quickly in recent years.
Unlike Bai, which uses coffee fruit, Core Organic’s packaging claims its antioxidant content comes from white tea extract and maqui berry. There’s also the organic certification, Collins and his team pointed out.
“Organic is the badge of health right now,” said Eric Berniker, Core’s CMO.
While the push is to have the entire Core platform walk before it can run, Berniker, a former marketing executive with Vitaminwater and Pirate’s Booty, will eventually be in charge of leveraging a broad array of celebrity power behind the brand. Powerful music producer Lukasz Gottwald (aka Dr Luke) and a broad array of musicians are investors.
Also on board is a potent collection of board members and advisors: along with Gottwald and Collins, Nadel, a former agent and attorney who ran the brand Neuro for several years, is also a director and was one of the company’s first investors. Other board members include 7-Eleven Chief Merchandising Officer and EVP Jesus Delgado-Jenkins and L.A. Libations CEO Danny Stepper, along with accountant Lawrence Spielman and attorney Renee Karalian.
But before Berniker starts the marketing machine, the test run needs to satisfy, Collins insisted. There’s also room on the board for more Core plays, he confirmed, including an energy drink.
“We want to make the product as good as we can,” Collins said. “We’ll have a great marketing platform, the biggest pop stars in the world who are investors in the brand. We haven’t used them yet because we need to increase distribution.”