Icelandic Water Holdings, which has long moved its Icelandic Glacial bottled water thru Anheuser-Busch distribution network, has established alliance with Stratus Group’s Golden West Food Group that may see that co’s shelf-stable canned kombucha and cold-brewed coffee lines soon enter A-B houses. Tho announcement apparently won’t go out until tomorrow, Golden West execs at bustling booth at NACS c-store show were happily describing to visitors a deal that will see their newly created Koe shelf-stable organic kombucha brand and canned Bowery Coffee Co cold-brew subline entering Bud network, possibly within next coupla months. It augments renewed push into NAs by A-B that’s included acquisition of Hiball organic energy and canned water, partnership with Starbucks on Teavana bottled teas and investments in brands like Owl’s Brew mixers, Up Mountain Switchel and Go Live probiotics.
Jared Smith, former KeVita and Campbell Soup exec who’s Stratus’ sales dir, said Koe line had originally been intended to be acronym for hybrid entry called Kombucha Organic Energy before co concluded there was wider opportunity to address the 80% of Americans who haven’t yet tried kombucha and might appreciate efficacious but approachable entry so it dropped energy component and launched Koe Organic Kombucha as black-tea-based entry boasting 4 bil probiotic cfu’s packed in 12-oz cans that will be priced at $2.49-3.49. Initial flavor range is Dragonberry, Lemon Ginger, Raspberry Lemon, Mango and Blueberry Ginger, all with 5-10% juice content to enhance flavor. They come in at 80 calories per can. They use shelf-stable probiotic from Sabinsa, one of only 2 vendors approved, along with Ganeden, for sale in Whole Foods. Smith stressed that co uses 4-month fermentation to concentrate to insure compliance on alcohol-content front, echoing major priority at his former employer, KeVita.
Bowery Coffee Cold Brew had launched with a splash at NACS a year ago as glass-bottle refrigerated line in range of vegan flavors, eschewing dairy or creamer alternatives (BBI, Oct 24). Now co is adding a shelf-stable canned entry in 8-oz cans that will be snugger fit with A-B network, available early next year. It will launch in Original flavor in Black and Cold Brew + Milk versions, as well as Tahitian Vanilla, Mocha and Toasted Caramel flavors, all with milk.
There are other products in works, including Moscow Mule-forward ginger beer under Copper Cup brand that might also be good fit for Bud houses. Overall intent, Smith said, is for Golden West to provide “turnkey portfolio” in fast-growing segments that Icelandic Water Holdings and A-B can move out to retail.
Golden West had made splash at NACS a year ago with refrigerated glass-bottle cold-brew line as well as Perfect Hydration Alkaline Water (BBI, Oct 24). As reported then, umbrella company Stratus Group counts as its core operation Golden West Food Group, marketer of meat and prepared foods (including Jack Daniels-licensed meat snacks and honey). Including private-label activities, for clients such as Trader Joe’s, Vernon, Calif-based co’s sales are approaching $100 mil. Speaking at NACS today, Jared said Golden West is not in need of financing and there’s no investment component to deal; rather, Icelandic Glacial will help move its brands out thru A-B network in US and into overseas markets where it’s establishing footprint, including China, Australia and UK. As word of potential alliance has circulated, Icelandic Glacial ceo Reza Mirza has demurred on commenting, but Smith said former Nestle Waters exec was key advocate for deal, with view to similarly building Icelandic as multi-brand house and had provided important guidance on marketing front in effort. A-B has long been minority investor in Icelandic.