Distribution Roundup: Koia Expands, Sprouts Inks Long Term KeHE Deal

Koia Expands Distribution into Publix

Plant-based protein drink maker Koia has announced its expansion into 1,200 Publix Super Markets. The retailer will carry the brand’s Vanilla Bean, Cacao Bean, Coconut Almond, and Cinnamon Horchata SKUs at a price of $3.99 per bottle.

The new distribution brings Koia, which launched in 2016 at Whole Foods Markets, to a total of about 3,000 stores. The brand recently added Sprouts and increased its presence with Whole Foods earlier this year. According to CEO and co-founder Chris Hunter, the company has begun focusing more on growing in the conventional channel with partnerships like Publix.

“Our initial plan was to launch and really saturate natural, and then test conventional and saturate that,” Hunter told BevNET in a phone interview last month. “It’s been interesting, in this day and age adoption and expansion has happened much faster than we anticipated.”

After Whole Foods, Koia’s next retailer was Wegmans, which significantly altered its product set and helped Koia to outperform other functional brands, including Naked, Hunter said. The growth in Wegmans pushed the brand to explore other retailers, including Publix.

“We’ve proven the product works in the natural channel and that those consumers are interested,” he said. “There’s great velocity in that channel and we’ll continue to saturate that. Now that we know that the conventional consumer is interested, and it’s resonating with them, we will continue to also expand within that channel. And then we’ll begin to test others.”

EBOOST Energy + Vitamins Shots Enter 7-Eleven

EBOOST, a maker of energy and vitamin shots, is now available in roughly 2,000 7-Eleven stores across all regions with an expected rollout to all locations nationwide in 2019, the company announced last week.

The company had initially targeted boutique hotels and premium health food stores with its powdered energy line. The shots line, intended as a better-for-you alternative to products like 5-Hour Energy, launched five years ago, but saw little traction until this past year after a rebrand, according to co-founder Josh Taekman.

“It’s been a challenge up until these last 12 months,” Taekman told BevNET in a phone call this week. “5-Hour just dominated the market and I think consumer expectations were low. I think consumer expectations were low, people were taking it just for the energy component and bypassing any of the healthy ingredients in it. I think [5-Hour] kind of made it challenging for products that were clearly differentiated, but consumers are more educated now and they’re looking for healthier and better-for-you solutions, so there’s been kind of a resurgence.”

The shots line had been primarily distributed in natural and specialty stores including Sprouts and Whole Foods and fitness chains like Lifetime Fitness and Barry’s Bootcamps, as well as in hotels and online with Amazon. The rebrand, Taekman said, has prompted EBOOST to make a larger push into retail. The brand recently added Kroger with King Soopers stores and will launch in Hy-Vee and H-E-B stores.

“We’re actually making the effort and speaking to retailers,” Taekman said. “In the past we’d get one or two SKUs in a couple different accounts — not enough to make a real impression or have a brand block. But now, part of our retail strategy is really bringing our brand forward, letting it shine in retail, and supporting it.”

Sprouts and KeHE Agree to Partnership Through 2025

KeHE Distributors announced this week that the company has renewed its partnership with Sprouts Farmers Market through 2025 and will continue to service the retailers 300 stores.

“Sprouts is one of the fastest growing, most forward thinking and efficient merchants in the country, and we are honored they have chosen to renew and expand our partnership,” said KeHE president and CEO Brandon Barnholt in a press release.

Terms of the agreement include shared targets for improving operations and decreasing food waste.

Polar Partners with Hudson News Distributors

Seltzer-maker Polar Beverages has partnered with Hudson News Distributors to grow out the brands presence in the New York metro, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania areas, according to Tom Dowdy, chief revenue officer at Hudson.

Speaking with BevNET this week, Dowdy said that although Polar handles much of its own distribution in its home state Massachusetts, Hudson will be focused on growing the brand tot the south of New England. The company signed on over a month ago, he said, joining other water and sparkling water makers including Nestle Waters North America, Hint, and LaCroix.

According to Dowdy, Hudson is carrying more than two-dozen Polar SKUs in multiple formats including 20 oz. bottles and multipacks.

Doctor D’s Enters Publix

Doctor D’s Sparkling Probiotic, a line of premium fermented beverages, has also entered Publix stores, bringing the brand’s total distribution to more than 2,000 locations nationwide.

“We are enthusiastic to partner with such a significant retailer as Publix,” co-founder Stuart Dimson said in a press release. “In the past year, we have purposefully worked to expand our national branding presence and footprint, and our production capacity is poised for growth in the coming year.”

The brand has partnered with UNFI, KeHE, DPI Specialty Foods and Certco and is also available in retail chains including King Soopers, Whole Foods, Sprouts, National Grocers, Earth Fare, Lassen’s, and Woodman’s.

GLOW Adds Safeway

GLOW Beverages has entered Safeway stores in central and northern California, the company announced in a press release this month.

“Working with Safeway allows GLOW to get maximum placement throughout Northern California with an established and loved grocery chain,” said CEO John Larson in the release. “We have been steadily gaining momentum from smaller, local retailers and now regions of a national grocer, which allows more consumers to experience GLOW.”