Coke made its first direct investment in a dairy brand, through Core Power's parent, Chicago-based co-operative Fair Life LLC) almost a year ago to the day, and Core Power CEO Steve Jones tells BeverageDaily.com that sports (muscle) recovery brand’s growth is “off the charts”.
What’s our big story? Well. Not only do we bring tasty, high-protein products to people so that they have more energy – I mean, this is almost the new energy category, protein – so they can live with more vitality. We’re also selling the sex appeal of vitality,” Jones says.
He notes that Core Power drinks – there are 20g and 26g/11.5oz incarnations thereof – are all natural, using monk fruit juice in place of artificial sweeteners and never use protein powders as ingredients.
Now available nationwide
Core Power rolled its high-protein drinks out across the Coke distribution system last summer, with initial exposure in Arizona, Illinois and Indiana. Jones says that “to all intents and purposes” the brand went national in August/September.
“All the CCR (Coca-Cola Refreshments) bottlers have us – the final rollout will be consolidated in the next month or so,” he says.
Starting a brand like Core Power, you have to be aware that can not do everything alone, Jones adds, but instead need partners and investors.
“We chose to take this path, because not only do we have Core Power, we have a whole portfolio of ideas that we want to bring to market that are all about people’s lives and bringing vitality to them with protein, calcium and other dairy nutrients.”
‘They’ve gone to school on Honest Tea, Zico…’
Explaining what he says was an easy decision to choose Coke, he adds: “Coke is very big – lots of trucks, lots of sales reps. Coke do big very well. The great thing is that they really want to learn how to do small very well also.
“They’ve gone to school on Honest Tea, Zico [coconut water] and others. They’ve done some work developing emerging brands. So it’s been fabulous.”
Core Power corporate contact with Coke was limited, Jones says, but the brand is tightly integrated with CCR (the operational, commercial side of the company) on a day-to-day basis.
Quizzed on what other types of products beyond Core Power shakes that could be launched, Jones says: “Watch this space – everything’s going to be milk-based, everything’s going to be value added. Everything’s going to have a protein and calcium and be lactose-free.”
Could Coke invest further?
Jones hails Fair Life LLC’s farmer suppliers – Select Milk Producers, 95 American family farmers he says broke away from the dairy establishment and transformed the dairy category – and also stresses the brand’s natural, sustainable credentials.
“Our milk is so clean. And they – the farmers – developed the technology we use to increase protein without chemicals, powders or preservatives. We can do a lot, and are going to launch one or two new products every year,” Jones says.
Core Power uses its cow manure to generate methane that it uses to generate electricity or gas for trucks, and Jones claims the brand “can trace our milk right back to the farm – no other system in America can do that”.
Jones is diplomatic when asked whether Coke could invest further in the brand, or take it over entirely:“You’ll have to ask them what their intention are regarding further investment in us. Right now we’re very glad to have them at the table – their support has been awesome,” he says.