In a market with a long professed love of natural, sustainable and healthful food and beverage and an equally strong penchant for small business, a manufacturer of raw honey-infused waters found an incubator for the brand it hopes to take nationwide.
Seattle, WA-based Hunniwater launched its first line of namesake raw honey and juice-infused water at natural grocery co-op chain PCC Natural Markets in June 2013, a year and a half after founder Karin Butler and her husband came up with the idea.
“I like to say that ever since Eric made the first prototype, it's been living inside me. I just couldn't get rid of the idea,” says Butler.
“At the beginning, you’re really just waiting for that first person to begin believing in you and share your vision. I knew we had something special when we showed the prototype to PCC and the buyer had the same reaction to our product as I did.”
At 80 calories a bottle in melon, pomegranate and lime flavors, Butler calls Hunniwater a "naturally functional healthy beverage" that is more of a snack than a meal replacer, though it could also be considered a more affordable gateway to juice cleanses, which have grown in popularity on the heels of high-profile celebrity and athlete endorsements.
“When we first thought of Hunniwater, coconut water came to mind because it's light and refreshing, and because honey also has electrolytes and minerals and can help you rehydrate,” she says.
“We initially went after the coconut water drinkers. But we're also targeting people who've tried a juice cleanse, positioning Hunniwater as a sort of entryway to detox. Juice cleanses are pricey, so we offer a more affordable option [retailing at $3.19], though we’re not as hardcore.”
Consumers got the hint and almost immediately began asking if Hunniwater offered a line of detox beverages during sampling events. So the company rolled out its Hunniwater Detox line in ginger cayenne, matcha and cinnamon just a few months later, in October 2013.
In addition to PCC and other regional chains such as Thriftway, Ken’s Market, Seattle Fish Co., and 14 Café Ladro locations, Hunniwater recently secured distribution in upwards of 200 Safeway and Whole Foods locations in Northern California, which will prove helpful as it looks to grow its investor base beyond family and friends.