ZICO is returning to a 100-percent not-from-concentrate portfolio of coconut water products, five years after adding a coconut water from concentrate line extension. The discontinuation of the concentrate formula comes as part of a greater revamp for the brand, which ZICO’s parent company, Coca-Cola, revealed in a press release Wednesday when previewing its participation at the National Association for Convenience Stores trade show in Las Vegas next week.
Coconut water made from concentrate isn’t the only thing on its way out at ZICO. The brand is also ditching its 14 oz. opaque HDPE bottles in favor of a 16 oz. clear PET bottle. To date, coconut water in such packaging has been seen almost exclusively with high pressure processed (HPP) brands like Harmless Harvest. ZICO adopting a clear plastic bottle for its on-the-go offering marks the first larger conventional brand to do so. The best-known format for coconut water has been Tetra-Pak, which ZICO still uses for its not-from-concentrate products, particular those selling in the natural channel. Plastic bottles, on the other hand, are seen as having a broader user base, and as such have been aimed at convenience stores and other conventional retailers.
The transition from HDPE to PET and concentrate to not-from-concentrate will be complete by March of 2016, when ZICO will begin rolling out its entire lineup of beverages, including ZICO Pineapple, Watermelon Raspberry, Chocolate and its natural original flavor, in the new PET bottles. ZICO will continue to also be available in its 1 L, 11 oz. and 8.4 oz. Tetra Pak sizes as well.
These recent changes suggest a potential pivot in strategy for ZICO, which, upon first partnering with The Coca-Cola Company in 2009 (and later on being acquired by its Venturing and Emerging Brands Division in 2013) placed heavy emphasis on the development and marketing of its from-concentrate HDPE bottles.
During that time, the brand has fallen well behind independent rival and onetime equal Vita Coco in the race for volume. According to data from Chicago-based market research firm IRI, ZICO posted multi-outlet dollar sales of $18.1 million in the 52-week period ending August 9, compared to $174.1 million for Vita Coco within the aseptic juice category. ZICO does, however, have a stronger standing in other categories including bottled fruit juices.
Sources close to the company indicate that it’s been a challenge for Zico to have to justify having a product in both concentrate and not-from-concentrate formulas and that positioning the entire brand under a not-from-concentrate umbrella not only eliminates that type of consumer confusion but also allows for a singular taste consistency across its entire range.