Distribution: Gains for Koia, Picnik

Koia Premieres New Flavors, Signs New Retail Partnerships

Less than a month after announcing the closing of a $7.5 million seed series fundraising round, plant-based protein drink Koia is moving quickly to keep the momentum going with today’s announcement of six new retail partnerships, two new flavors and a reduction in price that positions the product as more attractive to conventional grocery consumers.

After launching nationally last year with Whole Foods, the Los Angeles-based brand is expanding its presence in the natural grocery channel by rolling out in Earth Origins Market, Natural Grocers, Erewhon Natural Foods, Bristol Farms and Lassens Natural Foods and Vitamins. Along with UNFI, the company is expanding distribution with KeHe and working with HiTouch DSD.

“I think our partnership and launch with Whole Foods was instrumental,” said Koia co-founder Chris Hunter in a call with BevNET. “The fact that we were fortunate to do a national rollout and partnership with them I think validated the brand in a lot of other retailers minds, so I think it was helpful.”

Koia is also making inroads in the conventional channel, Hunter said. Along with securing placement in around 85 Wegmans locations along the East Coast, he said the brand would be entering Shaw’s and Ahold stores in the next few months. The new, reduced retail price of $4.99, down from $5.99, is also part of the company’s strategy to make the product more widely available to a broader spectrum of customers.

“I think while consumers were clearly willing to pay $5.99, as we were able to create efficiencies we wanted to pass on the consumer to make our product not only more accessible to them but also more accessible to additional channels where conventional consumers may not be willing to pay $5.99,” Hunter said.

Wherever they find Koia, consumers will also have the choice of two new SKUs — Cold Brew Coffee and an indulgent Cinnamon Horchata — that join the existing Cacao Bean, Coconut Almond and Vanilla Bean flavors. All varieties contain the company’s proprietary blend of brown rice, hemp and pea protein.

“We’ve been looking at a cold brew coffee SKU for Koia since we officially launched and it wasn’t ready in time for our initial rollout,” said Hunter. “That’s something that I think has made sense for a while, not only capitalizing on the trend of cold brew coffee but when combined with plant-based protein it offers a really nice breakfast on-the-go, which is one of our use occasions. It just made sense.”

Picnik Gets National Distribution at Whole Foods

Butter coffee is coming to a bottle near you.

Austin-based cafe Picnik has announced the ready-to-drink version of its signature cafe offering, butter coffee, will be launching nationwide at Whole Foods Market this month. The product — a function-forward combination of organic coffee, grass-fed butter, coconut MCT oil and grass-fed whey protein — is similar in formulation to Dave Asprey’s famous Bulletproof Coffee recipe.

Simply called Picnik Butter Coffee, the product’s three SKUs — Cappuccino, Mocha Latte and Dirty Chai — have been available for purchase online and in select Austin-area grocery stores since May. While Califia Farms launched its MCT oil-infused cold brew Full Shot in 10.5 oz. bottles in 2016 and Bulletproof itself is preparing a RTD offering for later this year, Picnik is positioning itself to be at the forefront of transitioning butter coffee from a niche drink made at home to a mainstream consumer product by being first-to-market with a bottled version.

“It took us four years of research, perfecting recipes and formulation to create an innovative product that we know people will love for its flavor as well as the way it makes them feel, and we are so proud to partner with Whole Foods Market to share our product with a greater national audience,” said Naomi Seifter, CEO and founder of Picnik, in a press release.

Picnik, formerly known as Blue Northern, has been serving butter coffee at its two Austin locations — one a brick-and-mortar cafe, the other a retrofitted trailer — since 2013. Last November, Seifter told BevNET that she recognized the potential for a bottled RTD version after watching butter coffee go from a drink that needed to be explained to customers to the cafe’s bestselling item.

“We had to sit there and convince people why they should try it and what the experience will be like,” Seifter said, adding that she uses Bulletproof brand MCT oil to prepare the drink at the Picnik cafe. “It took about a year of us doing that every single day with every customer to convince them before they would try [it].”

Picnik’s three SKUs feature slightly different nutritional and ingredient profiles. All include 10 grams of grass-fed whey protein and range from between 142 to 160 mg of caffeine per serving. Mocha Latte and Dirty Chai include 21 g of sugar and over 300 calories each, while Cappuccino has less than one gram of sugar and 210 calories. All three varieties will be available in single-serving 10 oz. glass bottles and have a suggested retail price of $4.99.

JUST Water Lands Houston Zoo Exclusive

As part of its efforts to reduce plastic bottle waste inside the park, the Houston Zoo has announced JUST Water will be the exclusive supplier of packaged water sold at its on-premise restaurants and kiosks.

Visitors to the Zoo will have the choice of purchasing water in pre-filled, reusable aluminum bottles or 16.9 oz. bottles of JUST Water. Founded in 2015, JUST packages its sourced spring water in 100 percent recyclable paper-based bottles made with 82 percent renewable resources with the goal of keeping its carbon footprint as small as possible.

The move is the latest step in the Houston Zoo’s continuing efforts to reduce plastic waste. The park banned plastic bags in its gift shops in 2015 to help protect animals in the wild.

“The zoo is committed to saving animals, and their habitats, in the wild and this is just

one more way we can inspire guests to take simple actions and join us in protecting

wildlife,” said Peter Riger, vice president of conservation education, in a press release. “We are using this action specifically to highlight the need to protect marine animals from debris. It also allows our guests to play a direct part in making a difference on our planet.”