Winter Fancy Food Show 2019 Recap: Rebrands, Acquisitions, and Expansions

Winter Fancy Food Show 2019 was not only an opportunity for brands to launch new innovations, but new initiatives as well. The annual trade show hosted by the Specialty Food Association earlier this week in San Francisco saw beverage brands announce comprehensive rebrands, acquisitions, and new sales strategies. This is some of what we saw.

Purity Organic Announces Rebrand Under New CEO

Six months after taking a majority stake and the chief executive role at Purity Organic, Douglas Abrams believes the company is ready to turn around and become a thriving lifestyle brand.

The company unveiled a comprehensive overhaul of the brand at Winter Fancy Food Show. The rebrand includes new packaging and formula for the sparkling water line, a refreshed innovation pipeline for its juice, sparkling water, and coconut water product lines, and the company has reformed its market strategy to reignite retail sales and add direct-to-consumer ecommerce.

Speaking with BevNET, Abrams said he is working to grow the company’s presence in retail by forming closer partnerships with distributors and establishing a wider network of co-packers on both the West and East Coast while also exploring opportunities to expand in the Midwest.

The company has also made a number of hires in key positions, including CFO Mike Dietrich, formerly of Kraft; VP of sales Keith Mallard, formerly of Reed’s; and field marketer Brandy Franks. Abrams added that Purity Organic is also exploring other c-suite hires in areas of quality control, production, sales and marketing.

“We’re coming in with discipline,” Abrams said. “We’ve brought in for the first time financial controls and analysis that were sorely needed.”

At this year’s Fancy Food Show, the company showed off multiple product redesigns and reformulations to establish what Abrams called “a clean, contemporary, more youthful look.” Packaging on the brand’s “passion” line of sugar sweetened beverages, including iced teas and lemonades, has been updated. The company also announced an upcoming line of blended fruit juices with 40 calories and no sugar added, which will be available in five flavors that are still being finalized.

The company’s sparkling water line, made with 15 percent fruit juice, has been reformulated to stabilize calorie count across the line at 20 calories per 12 oz can. Along with new packaging, Raspberry and Lime were announced as new flavors.

The brand is also now offering its coconut water in 4-packs of 330 ml Tetra Pak cartons. The line has been reformulated to be produced not from concentrate while maintaining organic certification. In April, the company will launch a line of flavored coconut waters called Purity Coconut in 16 oz. PET bottles, which will include espresso, pineapple, and chocolate varieties.

According to Abrams, the brand’s packaging had not been updated in more than five years. He described many of the changes as small but vital, such as changing the coloring of the word “organic” from red to green in order to signify nature. While the company is working to evolve its beverage business, Abrams added that he sees Purity becoming a larger lifestyle brand with opportunities to break out of beverage and into food, cosmetics, and even paper goods.

“I think Purity should be a lifestyle brand, certainly beyond just beverages,” Abrams said. “We want truth in labelling, quality around the products and what’s inside of it.”

In December, Purity Organic launched direct-to-consumer sales through its website and is currently exploring subscription models, Abrams said. The company is also now available on and

The brand has also expanded its partnership with New York distributor Big Geyser, which previously only carried its juice products, Abrams said. After its exclusive coconut water distribution partnership with Zico ended last year, Big Geyser accepted Purity Organic’s coconut waters and has worked with the brand to develop new products.

“I think Purity is a great brand that [before the acquisition] was terribly mismanaged and they spent a lot of money on the wrong things,” Big Geyser COO Jerry Reda told BevNET. “Doug and his investment group have basically purchased the company, recapitalized it, and it has a terrific trademark. And we think we can do a great job in partnering with them on the brand. It’s an excellent, high quality product.”

Looking ahead to the next 12 months, Abrams said the company is targeting the natural channel and anticipating a threefold increase in sales.

“We believe that with the current SKUs, as well as the proliferation of the new ones, we have plenty of product that people want,” he said.

Jittery John’s Acquired, Rebranded by Fizz Lemonade Parent

San Francisco-based cold brew coffee brand Jittery John’s was represented by a new face at Winter Fancy Food Show, having been acquired by Cold Brew Lab CEO Karim Mustafa.

Mustafa told BevNET he purchased the company in November from its founder, Kristina Barnes, for an undisclosed sum. Barnes, who launched the brand in 2012, is no longer involved in day-to-day operations but remains with the company in an advisory role. Mustafa also owns the Fizz Lemonade brand.

After the acquisition, the brand’s products were reformulated to use single origin coffee beans and reverse osmosis water. The product line is now sold exclusively in 10 oz. glass bottles.

“We fell in love with the authenticity of the brand, yet we felt it needed a lot of energy and momentum especially when it came to the sales and marketing side and the manufacturing side,” Mustafa told BevNET.

Reached by phone, Barnes told BevNET she is currently working on a new tech project related to the food and beverage space.

“I did not intentionally set out to start a big beverage brand,” Barnes said. “It started very accidentally and I happened to fall into a category that was growing rapidly and the growth all happened rather organically….It seemed to me like the brand needed leadership who was ready and wanted to take it to the next level where it could really grow and turn it into something more than I wanted to do.”

RISE Brewing Co. CEO Relocates to Oregon

East Coast nitro coffee maker RISE Brewing Co. CEO Grant Gyesky has relocated to Bend, Ore. to oversee Pacific Northwest expansion for the New York-based nitro coffee maker.

Gyesky told BevNET the company has a small sales and marketing team in Oregon, and is planning to open its first brick-and-mortar coffee brewery inside Backwoods Brewery this Spring. Gyesky told BevNET he is used to handling the company’s operations remotely, so the move presents “no real difference” with how he communicates with the team. He also plans to make regular trips to New York.

Gyesky said working on the West Coast will allow him to grow the brand’s presence in independent stores in Washington and Oregon, where he said the brand’s oat milk latte line has been performing well with consumers.

“The people are super local here,” Gyesky said. “They have their sandwich shop, their breakfast shop, their coffee shop, and RISE has really been resonating them. Particularly with the oat milk products, the people haven’t seen anything like that before. So it’s not moving in and taking the place of something else, it’s actually an entirely new offering.”

Wellness Shots in at Fancy Food Show

One trend on site at Winter Fancy Food Show was a rise in wellness shots, offering non-energy functionality to consumers. Numi Organic Tea unveiled a line of 2 oz. shots that include functional varieties such as Inflam Away, Immunity Defense, Belly Bliss, Mind Tonic, and Get Going, which use ingredients like matcha, apple cider vinegar, and turmeric.

“We are looking at opportunities to leverage our real ingredient expertise, our relationships with a lot of our longstanding suppliers, and bringing it into new categories and with these shots, because you’re consuming the entire thing, it just brings the functionality and flavor altogether,” said Erin O’Hara, marketing director at Numi. “We know people are striving for convenience, and for a way to quickly solve an ailment, so that’s how we’ve aligned on some of these.”

Ginger Shots, which last year rebranded under the name Tulua, also displayed its probiotic wellness shots, with flavors including apple, blueberry, tart cherry, and turmeric. President and CEO Zeyad Moussa told BevNET the company decided to expand beyond its ginger in order to meet growing consumer demand for diverse, functional shot products.

“People are starting to see the value of that segment, they love the convenience of it,” Moussa said. “They love the fact that they can take a bunch of them, throw them in their bag or fridge and have one every day. It’s just accelerating now as far as what people are looking for, they don’t want just one particular functionality out of a shot, and they don’t just want one particular flavor either.”