Sharelle Klaus, CEO and founder of DRY Sparkling, told BeverageDaily that the move to non-GMO certification is a “natural extension” for the brand, as it features only four ingredients and targets a consumer-base interested in the health and wellness space.
“It’s not easy task to get this done,” she said of the non-GMO certification process, which took two years. “But it’s about letting consumers now it’s very clean product.”
In addition to the certification, this may be a big year for DRY Sparkling’s expansion nationwide, as Klaus said they will move into the food store channel. The company will go move into Target and in grocery stores such as Safeway, Albertson’s and Kroger across the US. It will also move into convenience stores this year, with 7/11 and Speedways selling the drink later this year.
“We’re excited about what 2016 holds,” she said. “We believe that consumers are looking for a better option.”
The non-GMO process
Klaus said the non-GMO certification process was “very specific” and time consuming, but well worth it for what it may bring.
“They go through your entire formula and every single piece that goes into your product, they have to verify,” she said. “It’s a challenging process. I appreciate that they’re doing such a good job so it can be really absolutely clear that it really is non-GMO; no genetically modified anything in these products. It was extensive. It was having to prove every step of your process.”
DRY Sparkling range contains four ingredients per line: Purified carbonated water, pure cane sugar, natural fruit, flower of herb flavor, and clean preservative.
Appealing to the consumer base
The non-GMO certification was a necessary step, Klaus said, as consumers value it.
“For us that’s important,” she said. “I think we’re the second sparkling or soda beverage that’s done this certification - we wanted to be ahead of the game. We jumped on it. I believe it was two years ago we started. Part of the challenge was that it was a fairly new process. It’s not super streamlined yet, so there are a lot of challenges there.”
“I think it will continue to be an important thing. It’s important to me, personally. I was thrilled when it became an opportunity for us to do.”
Klaus has done a lot of research on DRY Sparkling’s customer base and has seen a group that is “very food forward” that knows where their food comes from. She said it is important for her company’s customers know each ingredient in what they consume is high quality.
A budding market
In the near future, Klaus believes other carbonated beverage companies will become non-GMO certified.
“They’re going to have to,” she said. “There are a lot of retailers who are demanding it. By 2017, Whole Foods won’t take anything that doesn’t have the certification … It’s going to have to get real big - retailers and consumer are demanding it.”
While Klaus said she wouldn’t be surprised to see larger companies, such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, earn this certification eventually, it will likely need more consumers demanding drinks made entirely from non-GMO ingredients.
“When enough consumers demand, then Coke and Pepsi will respond,” Klaus said. “They’re already lowering sugars. I think this is the next iteration of that.”
“I think it’ll move the needle as far as sales go. I think as consumers are going want to know [about ingredients they consume]. Over the next 24 months, it’ll get bigger and bigger. It’s a differentiator for us right now.”