Following an expansion of its distribution partnership with Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPSG), High Brew Coffee has solidified its national DSD network and set its sights on doubling its presence in the convenience store channel, according to company founder and CEO David Smith. BevNET spoke with Smith at last week’s National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) 2016 show, where the cold brew coffee company unveiled a new protein-infused variety.
DPSG now distributes High Brew in nine of its 11 regions, including New York, the Midwest, Great Plains, Northern California and the Southeast. The coast-to-coast coverage includes distribution in C-stores, a critical channel for RTD coffee; according to Smith, 74 percent of all packaged coffee drinks are sold in small format retailers, which includes C-stores and drug stores. Smith said that High Brew is “just scratching the surface” in convenience and planning for a major push in the channel in 2017.
“We’re probably at 8 percent ACV in the C-store channel, [and] we’ll probably be at 15-20 next year,” Smith said. “It’s a big focus for us, it generates a lot of trials; it’s really a great place to build a brand.”
Meanwhile, High Brew’s introduction of a new protein-infused variety — made with 12 grams of protein and three grams of fiber — was a response to feedback from the brand’s core consumers, who Smith described as leading “active, on-the-go” lifestyles and looking for convenient, added functionality.
“Listening to our consumers, there’s a lot of folks mid-morning, mid-afternoon that are not only looking for that pick-me-up with the caffeine, but also to get them through to their next meal,” Smith said.
In this video, filmed at High Brew’s booth at the NACS 2016 show, Smith offers more details about the distribution partnership with DPSG and the new protein variety. He also shares his thoughts on the state of cold brew coffee segment (it’s still “really in its infancy stage” with “further segmentation” coming, he said) and ruminates on the differences between running High Brew and Sweet Leaf Tea, which he co-founded over a decade ago and sold in 2011.