Though the brand launched a larger 11 oz. format last month, coffee shot brand FORTO still has big plans for the future of its signature 2 oz. mini-coffee cup package.
The company has announced it has entered an agreement to produce a line of coffee shots for brands including Donut Shop, Gevalia, Green Mountain, and Krispy Kreme that will be brewed with their respective source coffees and sold in the same package as the core FORTO line.
Speaking with BevNET on Wednesday, FORTO founder and CEO Neel Premkumar said the brand wanted to “democratize [its] coffee shot platform” and build the category. Each of the new products comes in the brand’s patented 2 oz. cup-style package and contains 100 mg of caffeine. But unlike its partnership with Hershey’s, in which the chocolate brand was highlighted as an added ingredient, this agreement clearly emphasizes the partner brand on the package, aside from the text “Powered by FORTO” along the base.
“We thought, hey, while we’re building this category out of on-the-go ready-to-drink coffee shots, our thought was how do we make this thing a much bigger category,” Premkumar told BevNET. “And if you look at any category of beverage or food in the store, there’s never just one brand.”
According to Premkumar, the company wanted to focus on bringing in brands with strong consumer loyalty in order to drive trial, as well as products with a premium or indulgent positioning. He said appeal to younger consumers and a national retail presence were also considerations.
The Powered by FORTO line includes Green Mountain Mocha, Donut Shop Sweet & Creamy Latte, and Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Latte flavors made with milk, and Green Mountain Pure Black and Gevalia Espresso unsweetened black coffee varieties. The line will retail for $2.99 per unit.
FORTO and its partner brands share a common home within the expansive coffee portfolio of JAB Holding Company, which also includes Peet’s and Stumptown. The Luxembourg-based conglomerate, which is the largest shareholder in Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP), has invested in FORTO and distributes it as a KDP allied brand, making the Powered by FORTO line a showcase for some of JAB’s most well known coffee lines.
“In total those four brands on the coffee side generate about $1.4 billion in sales,” Premkumar said. “They’re significant, they all have really high loyalty, they all skew younger, with higher with high-income consumers, and they have big businesses.”
In seeking to build a category for coffee shots, Premkumar said he sees the need for energy as a major growth driver in the coffee category. At the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Show 2018, FORTO launched its full-size energy coffee — a competitor to Starbucks’ Doubleshot and Monster Java. However, by introducing more shot brands, Premkumar believes the “quick boost” grab-and-go format will spur product velocities in the category.
The line is launching nationwide in Walgreens and Dollar General by the end of the year, Premkumar said, with additional national chains currently in negotiations to launch in Q1 2019 which will bring its retail footprint to about 15,000 stores. The shots will be distributed through KDP’s system.
“I think the idea of us owning the category, as opposed to just being one brand in the category, makes a lot of sense,” he said.