“I was very interested in plant waters and the health benefits they provide … but I just didn’t like the flavor” of birch-water, which is naturally slightly sweet when it is tapped from the tree, Bob Golden, who also is CEO, explained to FoodNavigator-USA. But, he added, he still believes in the beverage’s potential based on its huge popularity in Europe, paired with its health benefits from naturally occurring micronutrients, minerals and electrolytes.
“I thought, if I can make a product that has the same health benefits and tastes good, I think it would be a great product to come out with – just like my father did making iced tea [at Snapple] at a time when iced tea didn’t taste good at all,” he said.
And so he did by adding bold, yet familiar flavor combinations of organic juice, such as a peach mango, blueberry, strawberry and coconut pineapple.
“We didn’t want to go with flavors like acai or elderberry or things like that because most people have never heard of birch-water, so we wanted to make it comfortable,” added company President Brian O’Byrne.
The brand is also helping ease consumers into the idea of drinking water from trees by including images of peeling birch bark on the bottle and the trees on the website. Even the name, Treo, was picked to conjure images of trees, but also give the brand flexibility around the types of trees they use in products.
“Under this umbrella name, we could make maple water, hickory water, walnut water – whatever. So, it just gives us more options to be creative in what we want to do,” O’Byrne said.
Golden added that down the line, the company plans to break away from just beverages and create snacks inspired by trees, as well. But first, it will expand its flagship line with new flavors, including a trio introduced at Expo East in Baltimore, including Raspberry Lemonade, Kiwi Watermelon and Orange Apricot.
A healthier alternative
Despite the full-flavors and sweetness of the beverages, each serving has only 10 calories, one gram of sugar and one net carb per serving – thus checking the boxes for many health-conscious consumers, including those who want a sweet drink by are reducing their sugar intake.
The beverage also taps into growing consumer demand for organic – a distinction ground water cannot make – and desire for plant-based products, said O’Byrne.
“We are aware that we are at the first stage, but we think the following is great. We think we are right on the button in terms of how people want to get healthier, so we think those functions in terms of health, low sugar, low calorie but without compromising on taste will make Treo something you can try once and then want again because it has that flourish,” he added.
Based on the brands growth so far, he could be right. Within nine months of launching the brand already is in about 5,500 accounts, including Wegmans, Ahold, Stop & Shop and other hard to land stores.
“On a daily basis we get into more accounts. On a daily basis we pull consumers closer to us,” and we think this is a trend that will continue, O’Byrne added.