Cherry juice brand Cheribundi has raised approximately $5 million in new funding, and the proceeds will be primarily used to purchase more fruit and construct a new production facility in upstate N.Y. Cheribundi CEO Steve Pear told BevNET the financing was necessary to keep up with explosive growth: sales of the company’s cherry juice beverages surged from $3 million in 2013 to $10 million last year. Pear projects Cheribundi sales to reach $15-16 million in 2016.
“We’ve doubled the business now basically two years in a row,” Pear said. “We’ve outgrown the facility that we’ve been in since the inception [of Cheribundi].”
Although Cheribundi’s roots are in the natural channel, sales at large conventional retailers, including Walmart, Target, Kroger and Safeway, are driving a majority of the growth, Pear said. Cheribundi markets a range of product offerings and package sizes, however, the brand’s 32 oz. multi-serve bottle, specifically in tart cherry, black cherry and light cherry juice varieties, is the best-selling format.
Pear attributed rising awareness and consumption of cherry juice as a functional beverage — benefits are said to include anti-inflammation, pain relief and muscle recovery — as a key factor in Cheribundi’s development. Tart cherry juice is also a natural source of melatonin, and a growing number of consumers are using the beverage as a sleep aid, Pear said. To that end, Cheribundi is developing a sub-line focused on relaxation that is scheduled to launch later this year.
“The biggest opportunity is probably around sleep,” Pear said. “Melatonin doesn’t put you to sleep, but it just helps you sleep deeper. People that Google for sleep aid is around 100 million. [The new line] is another way to scale our business.”
While retail sales are the largest component of revenue for Cheribundi, over 140 college and professional sports teams, lauding the muscle recovery benefits of cherry juice, buy directly from the company. Pear expects that business to grow in 2016 and eventually reach $1 million in sales by the end of the year.
Cheribundi will support sales efforts with its “Who Knew?” social media and digital marketing campaign, which is designed to educate consumers about the health benefits of the tart cherry juice products. The company is also planning to launch a packaging revamp, with a new label and graphics, that will incorporate aspects of the “Who Knew?” campaign.
“We’ve just to get more people to know about it and try it, make it affordable and reasonable to see a healthier option than popping a bunch of pills from a pain or muscle recovery perspective or a sleep aid perspective,” Pear said.