Sparkling botanical drink maker Kite rode a cool breeze to victory during New Beverage Showdown 20 today, taking the title of champion in the second virtual edition of BevNET’s biannual pitch competition, which was sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company’s Venturing and Emerging Brands unit (VEB).
Kite produces a line of organic, botanical beverages with added adaptogens, intended to provide stress relief and promote balance and well-being. During the competition, co-founders Claudia Marion and Michelle Tirmandi said the brand was “made for the wellness-centric consumer that seeks a clean label.”
The drinks are available in three varieties: Rise (lemon and green tea), Align (hibiscus and tulsi) and Unwind (orange and ashwagandha). Each 12 oz. can also contains moringa and zero sugar, and has a suggested retail price of $2.99.
Judges in the final round included BevNET founder and CEO John Craven; Bill Ford, global director for venturing & portfolio management at VEB; Kerrie Lopez, head of merchandising and marketing at Thrive Market; and Bryan Bulte, managing partner at LivWell Ventures.
The panel praised Kite’s flavor, visual aesthetic and sense for its target consumer, but advised the company to use its label as an opportunity to educate shoppers on its ingredients and use occasion. Ford and Craven both suggested the brand could better position itself by choosing to present as an enhanced sparkling water or sparkling tea product, while Bulte called the packaging “some of the best in the competition.”
Kite competed in the final round alongside five other brands, including functional coffee Taika, ginger tonic Ginsation, mushroom-based shot maker ShroomShot, kids-focused probiotic drink brand Kaylee’s Culture and botanical sparkling water Aura Bora.
As the winner of New Beverage Showdown 20, Kite will receive a $10,000 industry ad package from BevNET, as well as bragging rights.
The finalists were chosen from a field of 12 brands, who pitched in the semifinal round on Tuesday. Competing brands included energy shot GO BIG, Rviita Energy Tea, CBD mocktail brand Sweet Crude, balsamic seltzer TARTA, Vietnamese cold brew coffee maker Omni Bev and canned mocktail line KUL MOCKS.
Speaking with host Ray Latif after the competition, Marion and Tirmandi said they plan to make updates to the packaging and are focused on increasing distribution. The company is also developing new flavors, including seasonal varieties.
“It was a journey,” Tirmandi said of the Showdown. “We really tried to tell a story and talk about our truth. It was really honest. We love Kite and we’re so excited about it and [our pitch] just kind of came out.”
Kite joins past New Beverage Showdown winners including Moment, Corsa, CANN, HopTea, Simply Soupreme, Bear Squeeze, RISE Brewing Co., Tio Gazpacho, MALK, Grady’s Cold Brew and Health-Ade Kombucha.