Distribution Roundup: SAS Launches Kickstart Florida

SAS Sales & Marketing Launch Kickstart Florida

Getting distribution in buzzing beverage markets like New York and L.A. is hard enough for a startup, but in quieter markets such as Florida it can be killer.

That’s what prompted Boca Raton-based SAS Sales & Marketing founders Susan and Andy Stallone to form SAS Kickstart Florida, a small distribution branch for beverage brands without market presence in the Sunshine State. SAS works to get brands into enough stores to meet the minimum retail threshold, which is often upwards of 50 stores, required by larger distributors such as UNFI and KeHE before agreeing to distribute products.

“In Florida, because there’s so few distribution options and they take so long to get into, what I’ve been doing when I launch a brand here is I play that sort of chicken and the egg game,” Andy Stallone told BevNET. “I call on the key accounts and chains I have a relationship with and try to get authorization with them while I’m also calling on distributors and trying to get them to pick up the brand.”

According to Stallone, it can take from two to four months before a brand is picked up by a distributor, during which time sales are low.

Stallone said Kickstart Florida is not a full direct store delivery (DSD) operation, but rather, as the name suggests, a limited booster until brands can get signed to full-time distributors.

Brands such as Tickle Water, Kohana, Phocus and Alpha Wolf have signed on to Kickstart Florida since its launch earlier this quarter. Stallone said the program’s results have been promising thus far, with more than 40 product placements in the past three weeks.

“It’s a great learning experience for the brands,” Stallone said. “We see where they fit on the shelf, we see the best price point, the way the best promotions work, the way the [point-of-sale] works. You really get a feel for it in the market.”

Anchor Distilling Company Signs Shrub & Co.

Anchor Distilling has signed an exclusive distribution partnership with shrub producer Shrub & Co., the company announced in a press release last month. Citing a growing trend for the use of shrubs in craft cocktails, the Shrub & Co. brand of drinking vinegars has been growing since its launch in 2012.

“Anchor Distilling is dedicated to partnering with authentic brands that fulfill a unique role in this exciting revival of cocktail culture,” said Dennis Carr, President and CEO of Anchor Distilling, in the press release. “We are thrilled to grow the Shrub & Co. presence while providing bartenders and consumers with access to these high-quality cocktail modifiers. As non-ABV ingredients that can be used in traditional and low- or zero-proof cocktails, Shrub & Co. adds an interesting and new dimension to our portfolio.”

FitWhey Signs with KeHE

Since launching in 2015, FitWhey founder Erik Rothchild has taken a slow approach to company growth, selling the product exclusively on Amazon and in 105 QuikTrip stores in its home state of Arizona. Now, the Phoenix-based functional energy and protein beverage brand announced an agreement with KeHE to distribute product to conventional grocery stores nationwide.

Speaking to BevNET, Rothchild said that, after selling off his first protein drink brand, Whey Up, he wanted his next venture to take a slower approach to growth. Proving the product’s potential, He explained that sales of FitWhey in QuikTrip have risen more than 60 percent since last year and continue to grow, proving the product’s potential.

“With FitWhey, I had a blueprint with how to build a brand from scratch in a home-based market and how to grow smartly,” Rothchild said. “The biggest problem with a lot of entrepreneurs in this business is they want to grow to fast, and that will just choke the life out of you.”

The company is currently in discussion with stores in the Southern California region, with plans to target the grocery and natural channel chains that KeHE has relationships with, including Sprouts, in the near future.

“As much as you want to grow everything needs to be in line,” Rothchild said, adding that he is also seeking new investors to continue to fuel brand expansion. “You need the funding, the distribution, feet in the street, everything needs to line up.”

Tickle Water to Distribute Through Dora’s Naturals

Kid-centric sparkling water brand Tickle Water today announced an agreement with New York-based Dora’s Naturals for Northeast distribution. The partnership will bring Tickle Water into more than 4,000 stores, according to in a press release.

“At heart, Dora’s is about growing innovative brands,” said Christopher Psuik, VP of Business Development for Dora’s Naturals, in the press release. “And that’s why we’re excited to add Tickle Water to our portfolio. They’re a great addition.”

Sipp Sparkling Organic Enters Giant

Sipp Sparkling Organics 10.5 oz. slim cans are now available in Giant Carlisle (Pennsylvania) and Giant Landover (Maryland) stores in the Mid-Atlantic region, the company announced in a press release last week. The supermarket chain will carry five flavors of the organic soda line, including Ginger Blossom, Mojo Berry, Summer Pear, Lemon Flower, and Zesty Orange. he line will be sold for a promotional price of five cans for $5 at launch.

Giant currently operates 366 stores in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Speaking to BevNET, a spokesperson for Sipp added that the brand will also be entering Cost Plus World Market stores in spring 2018.

Here Brings Cold-Pressed Juice to 187 Midwest Stores

Illinois-based Here Co. last month announced that it will self-distribute its line of cold-pressed juices to 187 Jewel-Osco grocery stores in the Midwest region. The company, which maintains a regional focus on supporting Midwestern farmers, produces its juices using locally-sourced produce from around the greater Chicago area.

“In order for local food to scale, we need to create demand for more local products in more areas of the grocery store, and that demand has to be there 365 days a year,” said Here President Megan Klein in a press release.

The juices will retail for $3.99 per 12 oz. bottle and include Kale Apple Wheatgrass, Pineapple Basil, Orange Zucchini Spinach, Beet Apple Ginger, and Cucumber Apple Celery kale Mint varieties.