The partnership with L.A. Libations will help Cave Shake expand beyond Southern California and build the infrastructure required to scale a fast-growing beverage brand. As part of their investment, L.A. Libations will also be joining the company’s board of directors.
L.A. Libations is used to accelerated brand growth as its past track record shows: growing once-small beverage brands such as ROAR Organic, FORTO Coffee Shots, and KonaRed to national distribution, said founder and CEO Danny Stepper.
“We are huge believers in the brand and the team and we are being very disciplined to not go too fast, which is rare for us because we have relationships with the biggest of biggest of retailers,” Stepper told FoodNavigator-USA.
“We’re making sure they have a really legitimate chance to win and our goal is to find sweet spots that are really interesting and we want to be the #1 or #2 player in the category. We think for sure this is #1 – there’s nothing like it.”
Demand outweighing supply right now
Cave Shake started with a handful of small, specialty retailers in the LA area and has expanded to taking over the Southern California market. This past June, the brand secured distribution with Whole Foods in Southern California, which was a challenge as it had to first gain USDA Organic certification.
“We’re trying to be very focused and deliberate on where we want to go with the brand because the demand which is very rare, the demand really outweighs the supply.”
For the stores that it is in, Cave Shake has achieved record-setting velocities.
“It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen,” Stepper said.
“Where we are sold, it does fly off the shelves,” Cave Shake CEO Holly Heath added.
“It’s hard, because I want to go full speed ahead, but it’s about slowing down and getting it right. I’m proud of what are sales were the first year and what we’re going to end with this year while remaining strategic and sitting on our hands at the same time.”
Clean comfort food?
The founders of Cave Shake, Billie Cavallaro and Karen Mould, played around a lot with coconut milk in their own kitchen and until they created what Heath describes a healthier “re-invention of the all-American milk shake.
“Our mission is to create foods that fill the void of comfort food but keeping it clean with very few ingredients,” she said.
Intended to be a meal replacement, Cave Shake contains 320 calories and 5 to 7 grams of carbs per 8-ounce pouch. The products’ main ingredients
include organic coconut milk blended with sea salt, pure vanilla extract, organic stevia, organic guar gum (and organic cacao or coffee depending on the flavor).
It was also important to the Cave Shake team to be convenient because following the ketogenic diet typically involves consuming 60% to 70% of your calories from fat, 5% carbohydrates, and moderate amounts of protein (as the body can convert certain proteins into carbohydrates).
“To continue a ketogenic diet there are very limited convenient, on the go options,” Heath said.
Cave Shake is packaged in pouches with plastic spouts at the top for easy sipping that have a shelf life of up to six months. When the company first launched, however, its products were in jars some of which still can be found on store shelves.
“We’re still a little undecided if we’ll see those removed from retail,” Heath added. “We’ve really grown to love pouches because we feel they’re super versatile.”
More convenient keto products to come
Still in its prototype phase, the company has developed keto ‘Cave Bars’ made with pecans, almond butter, whey protein isolate, organic coconut, grass-fed collage peptides, sea salt, and sweetened with allulose.
Cave Bars will be available in stores later this year, Heath shared.
While its core products are positioned as a meal replacement, many consumers have been using the Cave Shakes as a satiating snack, which is why the company will be launching a 3.5-ounce version as well.
Beyond fitting into the keto trend, Heath believes Cave Shake has a larger appeal of being low-carb and low-sugar, according to Heath and Stepper.
“We believe that keto is not a trend, it’s here to stay, but even bigger than that, low sugar and low carbs is really here to stay, it’s not a big idea anymore,” Stepper added.