Distribution Roundup: Rise Heads West

Rise Brewing Co. Heads West

The Pacific Northwest is known for its innovative, and discerning, coffee culture. So, the founders of Rise Brewing Co. feel that if they could make it there, they can make it anywhere.

The New York-based nitro cold brew maker launched its new 7 oz. slim can line of citrus and black coffees in Washington and Oregon this week via a partnership with Portland’s Columbia Distributing. In addition to finding placement in local independent retailers, the brand is also entering Safeway stores in the region and Alaska.

Prior to this West Coast launch, the company’s retail business had been focused on the Northeast, with a strong focus on New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and the Philadelphia area, along with dispersed placement throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. According to co-founder Grant Gyesky, the brand is also moving south into Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

“We’re currently in all those markets and I think as the spring hits we’re going to push out in a larger way,” Gyesky said. “That will be the focus– the Northeast, including D.C., and the Northwest.”

Co-founder Jarrett McGovern told BevNET the move into the Northwest came at the demand of distributors seeking new coffee companies to introduce to the local market to compete with longstanding players.

In addition to its retail business, the company has been distributing kegs to office accounts in Los Angeles and San Francisco, a move that Gyesky said will set up the Northern California market for the brand.

“Right now, the big play that we’ve currently had in L.A. and San Francisco is with office accounts,” McGovern said. “A lot of them have offices in New York, like Creative Arts Agency, Apple, Netflix, a couple of those guys. We service them in the East Coast, their employees go to the West Coast and they say ‘Hey, we want Rise!’”

Rise is also preparing to expand its ecommerce presence with Amazon and several other online retailers. The company currently sells its products via its own website.

According to McGovern, the West Coast launch also gave the founding team a chance to tour Seattle’s coffee culture, including a visit to the flagship Starbucks cafe that is providing inspiration for Rise’s own tap room, which will open in its New York headquarters later this year.

“I think to relate to our consumers, and even the people that we work with, it’s really nice to have the whole experience,” McGovern said. “To let people see where the coffee’s being made, how it’s getting conditioned with nitrogen, to walk through the walk-in and have everything set up with what has been most recently brewed.”

The Water Kefir People Partners with UNFI

Rise isn’t the only brand making gains in the Pacific Northwest. Probiotic soda maker The Water Kefir People has partnered with UNFI to distribute its five-SKU line in Washington and California.

“Our water kefir soda is an exciting new category in the rapidly growing market of probiotic functional beverages and we are proud to provide a healthy choice to consumers that is all natural, probiotic, GMO-free, dairy-free, organic, and kid-friendly,” said founder Crystal Bossola, in a press release.

Founded in Hawaii in 2014, The Water Kefir People produces and bottles its products in Bend, Oregon.

FitWhey Signs Agreement with Sprouts

BFit Brands, maker of FitWhey, has partnered with Sprouts Farmers Market to introduce the functional beverage in 35 Sprouts stores in Arizona, beginning in March. The agreement includes three FitWhey flavors — Grape, Berry, and Orange Cream — and the products will be distributed through KeHE.

“Part of our marketing strategy with FitWhey is to continue to build our footprint market of Arizona, so we’re pleased to partner with Sprouts,” FitWhey co-founder Erik Rothchild said in a press release. “Sprouts is an ideal retail partner for FitWhey because of its focus on healthy, natural foods. It is a trendsetter in terms of the natural foods market, and we believe that FitWhey will fit in nicely in that market.”

The expansion comes after a deliberately slow start for the Arizona-based brand which, from its launch in 2015 until November, was sold only on Amazon and in select Arizona retailers and California health clubs.

“As much as you want to grow everything needs to be in line,” Rothchild told BevNET in November. “You need the funding, the distribution, feet in the street, everything needs to line up.”

PhURE Water Available in Lucky Stores

Alkaline water brand PhURE Water is now available in Lucky Supermarket stores throughout Northern California, the company announced in a press release. The 9.5 pH water will be available at the stores in 1 L, and 1.5 L bottles.

In addition to Lucky Supermarkets, PhURE Water is also available in Albertson and Safeway stores in Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado.

XingTea Enters 3,000 CVS Stores

New Age Beverages Corporation announced Thursday that XingTea will enter into 3,000 CVS Health stores nationwide, marking a strong expansion in the drug channel for the Colorado-based company.

“We are so excited about this expansion of one of our major core businesses with a great quality retailer like CVS,” said Terry Sperstad, SVP of Key Accounts for New Age, in a press release. “We know this is just a starting point both in terms of distribution of XingTea, but also for the expansion of the entire New Age portfolio of healthy functional beverages.

The announcement comes shortly after reports that XingTea owners Tom and Scott Lebon had left the company. The Lebon brothers sold XingTea to New Age in May, 2016, and remained on as sales and operations leads. New Age CEO Brent Willis confirmed their departure last week.