The brand – which is already in some big names including Costco, Ahold, Wegmans, H-E-B, and Whole Foods Market - will hit several Kroger banners including Fred Meyer in the Pacific Northwest, King Soopers in the Rocky Mountains, Smith’s in the Southwest and Northwest, Fry’s in Arizona, and Ralphs in Southern California, said co-founder and CEO Kate Weiler.
DRINKmaple is also available at Amazon, fitness studios, restaurants and cafes, added Weiler, who discovered maple water on a trip to Quebec in 2013, fell in love with it, and found she couldn’t buy it anywhere when she got back to the US.
“Our brand is seeing significant growth in the natural and conventional channel," she told FoodNavigator-USA. "We’re one of the fastest growing plant-based waters in the category. Consumers are looking for healthy hydration and clean and simple ingredient labels.”
Time and temperature are the enemies of maple water
While some new players have entered the maple water category over the past year, there are some fairly significant barriers to entry owing to the challenges of processing and packaging the sap in a timely and effective manner to ensure quality and safety, said Weiler.
At the most basic level, the infrastructure is there, in that there’s no shortage of maple trees, said Weiler, who sources sap from a Franklin County Vermont that is then rapidly transported to DRINKmaple’s facility in St Albans, Vermont, for cleaning, testing and filtering before it is bottled.
The challenge is that there is a narrow window of opportunity both to collect the water (once a year between January and April depending on where the trees are), and to get it from the tree to a handling facility at a low temperature before it starts to degrade (which happens in a matter of days), she said.
“Time and temperature are the enemies of maple water, so we have to be able to collect and process it very quickly efficiently, to go from collection to bottling in 36 hours or in some cases even faster.”
DRINKmelon rolling out in June
Separately, demand for DRINKmaple’s latest product - DRINKmelon watermelon water – has “far exceeded expectations,” claimed Weiler.
“We’ll announce our retail partners at launch [scheduled for next month], but we have had a ton of interest.”
DRINKmelon Pure Watermelon Water is a "plant-based, single-ingredient functional beverage" made from domestically sourced watermelons that are "peeled and juiced before undergoing a gentle filtration process in an effort to preserve the water's freshness, taste, nutritional benefits and vibrant pink color," says the company.
The MSRP for the pasteurized, shelf-stable product will be $2.99 per 12oz bottle (90 cals).