Drinkmaple Goes National With Kroger

11009115_455525007955402_687413590681462520_nBoston-based maple water brand Drinkmaple has secured a national distribution deal with Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S. First reported by the Burlington Free Press, Drinkmaple co-founder Kate Weiler confirmed news in a call with BevNET. Weiler said the company is still awaiting confirmation on which Kroger banners and how many stores have picked up the brand.

To support the new distribution, Weiler revealed that Drinkmaple is building a new facility in St. Albans, Vt. The manufacturing plant will expand the company’s production capacity ahead of the upcoming sap-tapping season, which begins next month.

“With the current demand and our projections for this year, we’re really focusing on having a scalable and sustainable supply chain in place,” Weiler said.

While the brand’s authorization at Kroger arrives as one of the bigger validations of the nascent maple water category, Weiler said educating consumers will continue to be an important area of focus for the company. This week Drinkmaple received a high profile media placement via an appearance on “The Meredith Viera Show,” where nutritionist Heidi Skolnik championed the nutrient-dense properties of the product.

“We’re not just building a brand, we’re building a category as well and that takes time,” Weiler added. “As a small company that means we need to get scrappy and get to people in a grassroots kind of way.”

Drinkmaple’s latest news follows the company’s December announcement of distribution gains at Stop & Shop, Martin’s Food Markets, Giant Food Stores and Wegman’s throughout the East Coast, as well as H-E-B stores in Texas and Whole Foods’ Southwest region. The brand also has an international presence in the United Kingdom and Australia.

Meanwhile, other maple water brands have also expanded their distribution. At the end of 2015 organic and high pressure processed brand Happy Tree gained placement in two Whole Foods regions — mid-Atlantic and North Atlantic. The brand is now represented in over 200 Whole Foods stores in seven of the retailer’s regions. Happy Tree also recently became Non-GMO Project Verified.