Distribution Roundup: Cheribundi Goes Chainwide in Walmart

Cheribundi Goes Chainwide in Walmart

Cheribundi has doubled the distribution footprint for its 32 oz. Original Tart Cherry Juice line at Walmart stores, with the company announcing last month the product is now available at 4,343 locations nationwide.

According to Cheribundi CEO Steve Pear, the expansion comes as the company is on pace to finish the year with 50 to 60 percent year-over-year sales growth, largely driven by big box retailers including CostCo and Walmart, as well as grocers including Publix, Wegmans, and Kroger.

Speaking with BevNET by phone last week, Pear said that the brand’s expansion with Walmart represents a growing reach for better-for-you and healthy beverage products. The company is also in discussions to expand its shelf space within Walmart to add additional SKUs chainwide.

“It’s a good sign for us and the category, and we’re starting to see some more expanded sets in other retailers as well so hopefully this will lead to even more distribution,” Pear told BevNET.

Outside of retail, professional and collegiate sports teams have also been a significant growth driver, Pear said. The brand now sells its cherry juices to 240 teams, of which about 50 have been added in the past year, and also sponsors the ESPN Boca Raton Bowl college football event and the Arthritis Foundation’s “Let’s Get a Grip on Arthritis” campaign.

“That part is exciting because we’re dealing with nutritionists and dieticians who understand the science behind the brand,” Pear said. “They understand the benefits and in turn are giving it to their athletes, whether its professional or college, to use on a daily basis. So we can continue to build that business and it helps us to sell the story and validate the brand.”

Ugly Partners with Rainforest Distribution

Sparkling water maker Ugly Drinks is continuing its U.S. expansion by partnering with Rainforest Distribution to expand the U.K. brand’s Northeast presence. The brand, which launched in New York and online earlier this year, is currently in about 1,000 stores and will continue to focus on going deep within the New York metro area over the next several months, co-founder Hugh Thomas told BevNET.

“We launched the business with Gold Coast, had a fantastic start with them and they were a great partner for us in the beginning,” Thomas said. “They’re a smaller distributor but they really allowed us to achieve the progress we were looking for. Now we realized working with a bigger distributor is what we need and the traction the brand was seeing was really in line with what we were hoping to see early on.”

According to Thomas, the goal is to “make sure New York works” before expanding Ugly’s retail footprint. The partnership with Rainforest also coincides with the launch of a new flavor, Watermelon.

“I think what we’re seeing is the product performing well in the first couple of weeks and we’re really excited it’s rolled out into DSD as well,” Thomas said.

Sunshine Beverages Expands in Tennessee

North Carolina-based Sunshine Beverages has partnered with Tennessee-based wholesaler Lipman Brothers to expand distribution of its better-for-you energy drinks in Southeast convenience and grocery accounts, the company announced last month.

Speaking with BevNET, Sunshine president Lizzie Ward said the brand has added Atlanta-area Kroger stores and Publix stores in the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia. The company has also made new sales team hires, bringing Sunshine to 14 full time employees including five sales managers.

Over the past year, the brand has developed a network of primarily Anheuser-Busch InBev distributors to service 10 Southeast states. According to Ward, Sunshine is available in roughly 3,500 stores and has seen retail sales grow by more than 200 percent in 2018.

“Our plan for 2019 is going to be much more market penetration,” Ward told BevNET. “This year was about market development and building up the distribution that would then support that type of growth, and 2019 we’re going to be very focused on the geographic footprint that we’re currently in. We’re focusing very much on the 10 states we’re currently in and getting new accounts in that market, particularly c-stores. We’ve been mostly in grocery and c-stores are a huge opportunity for us.”

The company is launching a 12 oz. can, In addition to its core 8.4 oz product line, Ward said the company is launching a 12 oz. can aimed at broadening the brand’s appeal with c-store consumers. The company has also reduced sugar content from 15 g per serving to 10 g across its existing product portfolio. The reformulated line will feature 40 calories for the 8.4 oz cans and 60 calories for the 12 oz cans.

CELSIUS Enters Pepsi and AB Distributors

CELSIUS announced in a press release last week it has signed distribution agreements with several Anheuser-Busch and PepsiCo distributors, including Great Bay Distributors, Double Eagle Distributing, Ed F. Davis, and Bernicks, Inc.

“We are excited by the opportunity to partner with such well-established distributors and align ourselves with strategic organizations who will further support our momentum and broaden our retail footprint into 2019,” said president and CEO John Fieldly in the press release. “These collaborations further reinforce our strategy to increase placements of CELSIUS products where our customers live, work and play, through a diversity of channels and geographic locations, including broadening our retail footprint in high-profile retailers and convenience stores such as Target, CVS, Wawa, and Kroger.”