The new presence at Wendy’s, one of the country’s largest fast food chains, hits on two areas of focus for Honest Tea: rapid growth of its foodservice business and the continuation of a company goal to “democratize organics” by making such products available to as many Americans as possible.
“This marks a major milestone on our journey to bring Fair Trade Certified and organic products to people across the nation,” Seth Goldman, co-founder and TeaEO, Honest Tea, said in a statement.
The product was born out of Wendy’s relationship with the Coca-Cola Co., which owns Honest Tea and has be a long-time beverage supplier partner of the fast-food chain. Honest Tea first collaborated with Wendy’s in 2013 when it began testing new fresh-brewed varieties at locations in Albuquerque, Milwaukee and Mobile, Ala., markets with low penetration of organic products.
“Both of our R&D teams worked closely to develop a couple of different flavor profiles we thought could work with our menu line-up,” said Brandon Solano, chief marketing officer, Wendy’s. “We tested several flavors in market, but ultimately decided on the Tropical Green Tea because it pairs nicely with our menu, especially our fresh-made premium salads.”
Wendy’s will brew batches of the tea fresh at each location with ingredients supplied by Honest Tea, including tea leaves, Fair Trade and organic sugar and other mango and pineapple flavors. The beverage will be housed in a dispenser independent from Wendy’s fountain drink system.
As Solano noted, the launch of an organic beverage option is expected to be a key pairing for Wendy’s salads, which the chain promotes as “healthy fast food choices,” and “the choice to select from nutritious options for healthy living.” And at 60 calories for a 20 oz. serving, the restaurant chain believes that the product will be a popular option among millennial female consumers, Solano said. The tea will be available in small, medium and large sizes with a recommended price of $1.69, $2.29 and $2.69.
The rollout of Honest Tropical Green Tea will be supported by radio advertising and in-store merchandising, as well as a strong digital campaign called “Sip Me Up,” Solano said. He described Sip Me Up as “a highly targeted, quick, ‘sippable’ piece of content that creatively combines our audiences interest with a product attribute.”
“For instance, the target interested in yoga would be treated to a Sip Me Up called “Namas-tea” featuring aptly named yoga poses in which you can still drink Honest Tropical Green Tea,” Solano said.
For Honest Tea, the partnership with Wendy’s represents a remarkable evolution in the amount of the organic ingredients that the company sources for its products, Goldman said. He noted that in 2007, the year before the Coca-Cola’s initial investment in Honest Tea, the company used 800,000 pounds of organic ingredients for its beverages. The company estimates that it will source 1 million pounds for the single beverage that sells in Wendy’s alone.
It’s a gigantic leap from the brand’s early days, when it debuted at a handful of Whole Foods stores, and while Honest Tea still views the natural channel as the foundation of the company, widespread availability of its products is the key to its mantra of greater availability of organic products for all Americans.
“Natural stores are the base of our business,” said Goldman. “But if we really want to drive change, we need to find larger audiences.”