Distribution Roundup: Zupa Noma Branches Out

Zupa Noma Branches Out

Zupa Noma, one of a handful of rising brands in the developing drinkable soup category, is making gains both in and out of its Sonoma County homebase. Speaking to BevNET this month, VP of marketing Jennifer Berliner announced the company recently added 22 Northern California Whole Foods stores to its retail footprint — its second region with the natural grocery chain after the Northeast.

On top of Whole Foods, the brand went nationwide with Wegmans this summer, and has since picked up reatilers such as Fairway, Safeway, and Mariano’s, with the latter, representing the company’s initial entry into the Midwest. The brand has also benefited from distribution through UNFI, which has secured placement in a number of California independents as well as San Francisco Bay Area chains such as Mollie Stone’s.

The company is using in-store demoing to drive trial and reach new consumers, Berliner said.

But it’s in direct-to-consumer sales that is primarily driving growth for the company. E-commerce channels, including Amazon Fresh Store, have allowed Zupa Noma to key in on specific consumers who are interested in the drinkable soup concept but live outside of the metro areas where the product has gained traction at brick-and-mortar retail.

“It’s a great fit for this young category where the right consumer is incredibly receptive and excited about the product,” Berliner said. “It allows us to speak to that person. Those people live in New York and San Francisco, but they also live in Tennessee and Florida. We’re shipping orders all over the country every day.”

Zupa Noma has also launched two new flavors — Pumpkin Cinnamon Sage and Cauliflower Cashew — available exclusively for direct-to-consumer sales. Based on their performance, Berliner said, they could potentially be introduced to “targeted retail partners” sometime next year.

Coca-Cola Refranchises Company-Owned Bottling Operations

Following through on a decade-long plan to remake its North American bottling operations, The Coca-Cola Company has completed its refranchising to partner with local bottlers across the U.S.

The company closed deals with three major regional partners over this past weekend, the company announced Monday. They include Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages in the New York, New Jersey, and metro Philadelphia area; Reyes Coca-Cola Bottling, which handles operations in six midwestern states and has now taken on responsibility for territories in California and Nevada; and Swire Coca-Cola, USA, which added an additional production facility in Colorado.

The latest additions complete the company’s refranchising plans. Coca-Cola now has a total of 350 distribution centers, 50 production facilities, more than 55,000 employees, and over 1.3 billion cases of volume, the company said in a press release.

Coca-Cola began the long-term mission to redevelop its bottling operations in 2010 when the company acquired its North American bottling businesses, leading to the establishment of Coca-Cola Refreshments, an in-house bottling and distribution unit.

The company reversed strategy in 2013 when then CEO and chairman Muthar Kent announced bottling operations would be returned to franchise owners in a move designed to cut costs and alleviate workload from its bottlers.

New Age Beverages Partners with Dot Foods

New Age Beverage Corporation has inked a deal with Ill.-based Dot Foods, Inc. to bring the its products to more than 4,400 distributors covering foodservice, hospitals, universities, offices, convenience stores, and other channels.

“Dot Foods is excited to be working with New Age Beverages Corporation,” said Rodd Willis, director of natural and specialty at Dot Foods, in a press release. “The brand portfolio that New Age Beverage has will be a valuable addition to our growing offering of natural beverage brands. Our customers expect us to continue to provide new, exciting brands and this partnership helps us deliver on that promise with the full portfolio of healthier beverages that New Age provides.”

Over the past year, New Age Beverages has worked to reshape its beverage portfolio, acquiring companies such as Maverick Brands, which produces Coco Libre coconut water, and the assets of Marley Beverage Company, which markets a variety of drinks featuring reggae legend Bob Marley. The company’s portfolio also includes Xing, Aspen Pure Probiotic Water, and Bucha Live Kombucha.

While New Age had been previously targeting traditional retail, the partnership with Dot Foods represents a shift into service channels. According to CEO Brent Willis, the company hopes its portfolio of healthy and better-for-you beverages will strike deep in these new channels.

Powell & Mahoney Enters Whole Foods

Powell & Mahoney’s play into grab-and-go has entered Whole Foods nationwide. The craft cocktail mixer company’s line of 12 oz. canned mixers with natural ingredients launched in the natural grocery chain earlier this month, according to co-founder and president Mark Mahoney.

The line includes Sparkling Mojito, Ginger Beer, Blood Orange Ginger Beer, and Original Sparkling Tonic varieties.

Arteasans Beverages Partners with Carmela Foods

Arteasans Beverages has secured distribution with Carmela Foods to grow Midwest operations for its line of ready-to-drink tea infusions. According to a press release, the partnership will allow Arteasan to gain placement in specialty food retailers, restaurants, country clubs, hotels, and resorts.

Since the deal went into effect in September, Arteasan has entered retailers such as Papa Joe’s, Market Square and Western Market.

In addition to Carmela Foods, Arteasan has been rounding out its midwest network with UNFI Next, which landed the company placement in Heinen’s, Tony’s Fresh Market, and Vince & Joe’s stores.