But until now, no one has come out with a ‘retail-ready’ 100% mangosteen juice that can sit alongside coconut water or pomegranate juice in the grab & go chiller at mainstream grocery stores, argues Bali co-founder Edward Farley, who is on a mission to introduce more Americans to a fruit he fell in love with while working in finance in southeast Asia.
“Mangosteen juice has only been sold in the US since 2007 and it’s been online only, not at retail, where it’s often sold as a supplement for up to $40 a bottle [in which it is often blended with other fruit juices] and has something of a cult following.”
Bali 100% mangosteen juice, by contrast, is available in Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions stores across Southern California with an MSRP of $3.49-3.99/10oz bottle, which is at the premium end of the spectrum for a shelf-stable juice, but significantly cheaper than the mangosteen products available online, said Farley, who teamed up with former Coca-Cola executives Ken Ramirez, Matt Vernon, and Chuck Muth last year to develop the Bali brand.
Buyers like it because it’s genuinely new. It’s not another alkaline water or coconut water
In some stores Bali sits next to shelf-stable coconut waters, whereas in others it features in the refrigerated grab & go segment, where all new beverage brands want to be, said Farley, who also works with Vernon on a vodka shot brand called SLRRRP.
“Pretty much everyone in California lives within a couple of miles of an Albertsons, Vons or a Pavillions store [where the brand launched in the spring] and we’ve just expanded in Nevada and Utah, so including the independent stores, we’re in around 400 stores so far and we’re very happy with the response.
“Buyers like it because it’s genuinely new. It’s not another alkaline water or coconut water or cold brew coffee, no one is pitching them mangosteen juice, so they have been very positive so far. We’re also working on additional SKUs launching later in the year with watermelon and aloe vera, and later on we’d also like to get into other categories such as sparkling products."
Mangosteen fruit originates from The Sunda Islands in the Malay archipelago, the best known of which is Bali, says Bali co-founder Edward Farley.
“The trees take 15 years to bear fruit, they have to be by the sea, they need heavy rain, and they need hot sun, and 95% of the world’s supply is in southeast Asia: Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. We source all our ingredients from Vietnam: mangosteen, green tea, and pomegranate.
“We’ve spent three years working with farmers in Vietnam to develop the supply chain to be able to produce a 100% pure mangosteen juice for an affordable retail price given that we have 5-6 pieces of fruit per bottle, and we do everything there, including bottling and then we import it to the US.
"It’s pasteurized at around 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the lowest temperature we can use and gives us a shelf-life of 12 months.”
We’re not making any ‘this cures this or that’ health claims on pack
But does mangosteen have the allure of some of the other so-called ‘superfruits’ and what’s driving its appeal for shoppers unaware of its cult following among some online health enthusiasts?
“We have less sugar than most fruit juices, and the vitamin [each bottle of Glow has 75% of your DV for vitamin C] and antioxidant content is obviously appealing, but we’re not making any ‘this cures this or that’ health claims on pack [the bottle describes the fruit as ‘bursting with rich vitamins and xanthones, a powerful antioxidant’ although it does not make any structure/function claims]," said Farley.
"For the bricks and mortar business, it’s more about this is a pure fruit juice with a nice taste.”
In general he said, “Fruits like coconuts, aloe vera, and pomegranate have become very popular and part of it is due to perceived health benefits and the interest in antioxidants, but it’s also due to their more interesting flavor profiles and the fact they are a bit exotic.”
All four co-founders have invested in the business, while the brand has also conducted a seed round to support the launch backed by outside individual investors, he said.
*Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana L.) is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia that produces a fruit whose pericarp contains a family of polyphenols referred to as xanthones. Multiple in vitro studies suggest the xanthones may possess anti-oxidant, anti-proliferative, pro-apoptotic, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic activities, but data from animal and human studies is much more limited, according to a 2013 review in the journal Nutrients:
“Despite the numerous health claims on advertising sites for producers and retailers of products and beverages containing mangosteen, there is insufficient scientific evidence at this time to support the use of mangosteen containing supplements as enhancers of health and useful adjuvants for treatment of various pathophysiological illnesses.”