By Max Rothman
While Reed’s Culture Club Kombucha already has a small presence in the New York market via distribution from Abraham Natural Foods Corp., CEO and founder Chris Reed said that it was time for the next step.
On Tuesday, Reed’s announced that Manhattan Beer Distributors (MBD) will distribute all eight Culture Club varieties in the New York City’s five boroughs as well as the Hudson Valley.
“New York’s a huge kombucha market,” Reed said. “I think New York has been embracing it. I know [GT’s Kombucha] does a lot of business in New York. We see [G.T. Dave’s] products out there a lot, and it’s just kind of nice to be able to find someone to deliver it, especially someone who’s as competent as Manhattan Beer.”
MBD draws more than 50 percent of its volume from MillerCoors and Crown imports beer brands, including Corona. The distributor also carries Samuel Adams, Shiner and variety of craft beers from smaller breweries. While MBD focuses primarily on beer, it does carry a number of non-alcoholic brands such as Red Bull and Vita Coco. It has also carried Reed’s-owned Virgil’s sodas and Ginger Brew since 2007, which eased the deal-making process for Culture Club.
While Reed said that kombucha appeals to a wide and growing range of consumers, it’s probably safe to say that most toddlers don’t mess with the stuff. Leave that demographic to companies like Irvine, Calif.-based True Drinks, Inc., which announced on Thursday morning that it has expanded distribution of AquaBall, a calorie-free flavored water for kids, within its home market of Southern California.
The company has gained distribution for AquaBall in Albertsons, Bristol Farms, Gelson’s, WinCo and Ralphs, a grocery chain owned by Kroger. The expansion adds placements in 397 stores. True Drinks already distributes the beverage to other accounts in the region, such as Food 4 Less, Vons and Pavilions.
“We have done very well to cover the grocery channel in one of our key markets, Southern California,” True Drinks CEO Lance Leonard said in a company release. “We are working to add to our coverage of this market in 2014 with further expansion into new retail formats.”
Going back to the other side of the country, SIPP Sparkling Organics announced on Monday that its craft sodas are now available in Whole Foods throughout the Northeast, which includes about 30 stores in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, according to a company release.
The stores will carry three SIPP flavors: Ginger Blossom, Summer Pear and Mojo Berry. The beverages can already be found in Balducci’s stores in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, Central Market stores in Texas and ABC Fine Wine & Liquor stores in Florida. They contain no caffeine or gluten and are marketed as a healthier alternative to mainstream CSDs.
“We are very proud SIPP is now offered in all the Whole Food stores in the Northeast region as they are the premier natural organic grocery retailer,” SIPP CEO and founder Beth Parentice said in the release.
Jin+Ja, which, like SIPP, is also marketed as a better-for-you beverage, continues its gradual push into the marketplace with the Monday morning announcement that the beverage is now available in Fairway Markets throughout the greater New York Area. The two sides are linked through distribution from UNFI.
The product is a spicy elixir made with ginger, lemon, cayenne, mint and green tea. The company release announcing the news advises New Yorkers to combat colds and freezing weather with the beverage.
“It has been an honor offering Jin+Ja as a safe alternative for people looking for a healthy choice that isn’t boring or intimidating,” founder Reuben Canada said in the release. “It has been a pleasure working with the folks at Fairway to bring Jin+Ja to their customers.”