“That was a challenge to figure out what category we fit into so we sort of created our own, which is a botanical blend,” founder Candice Crane told FoodNavigator-USA.
“I’d say we’re sourcing volume from diet soda and sparkling teas.”
All containing zero calories, Petal's three products are USDA-Organic certified using organic rose water sourced from Turkey sweetened with erythritol and stevia leaf extract (Reb A) along with natural and organic botanical flavorings including mint and lychee.
Crane - who was born in South Africa and moved to Chicago in 1984 - was inspired in equal parts by her grandmother, who she used to sip rose tea with growing up, and her family’s end-of-line packaging equipment company, ARPAC.
“I watched that industry from the tail end of the packaging world,” Crane said.
Petal made its debut at the National Restaurant Association show in May and has been working with a Midwest distributor to get into premium retail outlets, high-end convenience stores, and organic and local markets throughout the Chicago area.
"We are laser-focused on the Midwest market for 2018 with the plan to go into new markets in 2019. Most likely, we’ll be going West Coast," Crane said.
Petal recently did a demo at Chicago area grocery chain, Sunset Foods, and sold over 1,000 units in three hours, according to Crane. The following day the retailer placed an order for its five locations.
Another driving force behind growing Petal has been the support of industry veteran Eric Schnell, the co-founder of sparkling tea brand Steaz, who acts as a board adviser for the brand.
“He is in the business of helping entrepreneurs that are health conscious and making better-for-you products,” Crane said.
Schnell was involved in the branding and formulation process of Petal, which comes in a trio of flavors: original rose, mint rose, and lychee rose packaged in 12-ounce cans.
From beauty to beverage
Rose and botanicals in general have been migrating from the beauty industry into food and beverage categories more recently.
For 2018, Whole Foods Market called out floral flavors and “rose everything” as one of its top flavor trends for the year.
“I noticed rose water was trending in the beauty industry and there really wasn’t another rose water beverage that first and foremost doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup and wasn’t filled with a lot of sugar,” Crane said.
This blossoming botanical trend along with rose water history as an ancient beauty elixir -- Cleopatra was said to have bathed in rose water, according to Crane – was also the inspiration behind Petal.
“It’s an ancient drink with a modern twist,” Crane added.
Firm female identity
Crane describes rose water as the brand’s “heroine ingredient” and its target audience is women aged 18 to 32.
“Rose water is what it is. We can’t hide the fact that rose water is feminine. We’ve made this drink beautiful and we invite all consumers to enjoy it, but it is marketed towards women,” she said.
Along those lines, the branding and packaging of Petal is meant to convey a sense of empowerment, especially among women.
Crane noted that the brand has also been resonating with female consumers as young as nine and women into their 80s.
“I wanted to bring some courage, brightness, lightness, and fun into the consumer’s life,” Crane said.