Rebel Kitchen, a U.K.-based marketer of coconut milk-based beverages, recently introduced an organic and high pressure processed (HPP) coconut water brand extension. The new product will make its U.S. debut at Natural Products Expo East 2016 in Baltimore next week. Rebel Kitchen’s new line comes in 8.4 oz. and 16 oz. sizes and is essentially a rebrand of Unoco, a super-premium coconut water brand that Rebel Kitchen invested in and later acquired.
Rebel Kitchen coconut water launched in the U.K. in June, a few months after the company’s acquisition of Unoco. Although Unoco had an established presence in the country, it achieved limited distribution in the U.S. and struggled to find its footing. Rebel Kitchen founder Tamara Arbib believes that, packaged as an offering from Rebel Kitchen, the coconut water has a better chance of success in the American market.
Sourced from the Philippines, the coconut water has a savory flavor when compared to much sweeter Thai-based varieties, according to Airbib. It’s something she views as an important point of differentiation in the set of super-premium coconut waters.
“The next level of the game is having an understanding of the different taste profiles in coconuts,” Airbib said. “So far in the U.S. the major players are giving you a Thai taste from Nam Hom coconuts and I think that as consumers become more and more educated around coconut water, there is an opportunity to say… ‘have Rebel Kitchen because it’s a very clean crisp taste.’”
That taste profile and freshness of flavor is maintained by Rebel Kitchen’s use of HPP, a non-thermal safety method that uses high pressure to preserve packaged foods and beverages. Although HPP coconut water has in recent years come under increased scrutiny by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Harmless Harvest, the leader in the super-premium segment, abandoned it in favor of a proprietary micro-filtration process, Rebel Kitchen will stick with the processing method. The company’s use of HPP is one part of a safety and sanitization plan that Aibib described as “water-tight.”
“One of the reasons that we acquired Unoco was because of that super-tight process,” Airbib said. “I really feel for Harmless, because the issues that it had and everything that was going on with HPP does HPP a disservice. When you have a facility [like ours] that is FDA-approved and a rigorous process that ensures that the micro-safety is there, I don’t have a problem with HPP.”