Colorado-based kombucha brand Rowdy Mermaid announced this week it has relocated to a larger Boulder headquarters to increase production, improve distribution efficiency and expand its team. According to the brand, the new 29,000 square foot facility will allow it to increase its current production output by 20 times. The move comes after the brand made the shift from glass bottles to aluminum cans in July, intended to be more environmentally friendly and convenient for consumers while also allowing for more efficient manufacturing and transportation.
Rowdy Mermaid CEO Jamba Dunn told BevNET that the cans have allowed the brand to “shift more broadly,” leading to the addition of more retail partners. Rowdy Mermaid recently expanded to 175 Walmart stores as well as all Fresh Market locations on the East Coast.
Dunn said the packaging change and subsequent retail expansion sparked the decision to seek out a larger facility, as Rowdy Mermaid needed to produce and store more product. Since the can launch, the brand has seen a 30% increase in sales velocity, he said, and produced 29% of its annual volume in approximately a month and a half. Dunn said the new packaging allows the product to be transported to the East Coast more efficiently as well as be stored in warehouses for longer periods of time.
“Traditionally, we’ve been a pretty strong regional player,” said Dunn. “This next year will set us up to be a new national player.”
After conducting research in its in-house laboratory, Dunn said the team determined that because it’s sealed in a light-free environment, canned kombucha remains fresher, allowing the brand to extend the product’s shelf-life from three months to four. Dunn added that the brand’s in-house lab and the team that runs it have expanded with the new facility.
“This coming year we’re going to be very much investing more into the science of our product and learning how to make kombucha more safety and more efficiently,” said Dunn.
With the new facility, the brand also plans to expand its team, beginning with the new addition of Melissa Hauser as its VP of sales and marketing. Hauser previously served as the national director of sales for Coca Cola’s Venturing & Emerging Brands (VEB) division, and worked for PepsiCo’s foodservice arm prior to that. Rowdy Mermaid plans to add more sales team members over the next year as well, after expanding its team of regional sales managers this year and working with Ignite Sales Management to gain sales representation in every U.S. region. However, the brand’s largest growth will come from the addition of manufacturing and production roles, Dunn said.
With the increased output, the focus is now on continuing to expand its distribution footprint. While noting that Rowdy Mermaid “will always have a home in the natural channel,” Dunn said the brand plans to target additional conventional retailers, including a potential expansion of its Walmart footprint. Its foodservice presence will also be a continued priority as accounts transition from kegs to the new cans. New accounts include restaurant chains Modern Market in Colorado and California Fish Grill in Los Angeles.
Looking ahead to next year, Dunn said the Rowdy Kombucha team will continue to develop its brand strategy. He told BevNET in February that the brand had begun working with a brand strategy firm to “refine the company’s target consumer base,” which he said led to the primary focus on improving packaging to appeal to its active lifestyles consumer and highlight the products’ functional elements. In the next year, the brand will take a broader look at its strategy.
“We’re planning in 2020 to really go back into the brand again and figure out more of what we stand for,” Dunn said.