Califia’s CEO, Greg Steltenpohl told Beverage Daily the new creamer lines are 100% plant-based, and offer an alternative to traditional creamers.
“[Traditional dairy-based creamers] are not natural, and they use a lot of artificial ingredients. Plus, they have certain types of oils and fats, which are not considered healthy,” Steltenpohl said.
Califia’s new Creamer line has 50% less sugar than the conventional creamer products, he said. “We have a completely unsweetened part of the line as well.”
In addition, these creamers are presented with various natural flavors, such as pecans and caramel, to make sure consumers experience more authentic flavors in their coffee, Steltenpohl added.
Almond milk: leading non-dairy beverage, and still growing
According to Steltenpohl, almond milk passed soy milk as the number one non-dairy substitute about a year ago. And for the first time this year, almond milk has surpassed one billion dollars in sales in the overall market.
“The fact is almond has become the de facto non-dairy choice, so that’s a significant trend,” he said.
Steltenpohl cited from a Mintel report and said, in three years, non-dairy beverage market will worth more than $3bn in the US.
Compared to the domestic market, Asia is much larger, he added. “We are talking about a 10bn-dollar market within three to four years.”
As for Califia’s two new Better Half products, original and unsweetened, Steltenpohl said they are the first company in the country to create a plant-based alternative to the conventional Half and Half.
“Half and Half is totally commodified,” he said, “and [coffee creams] is such a big category. I mean Half and Half and Creamers together are over $3bn. But Half and Half has a lot of fat, and Creamers have a lot of sugars and chemical, so we’re the first clean solution.”
More than contributing to natural channels
Steltenpohl said, since their brands entered the non-dairy beverage category, they have been helping drive the category growth. “For example, we are contributing 37% of the growth in natural channel around these types of beverages,” he said.
However, using plant-based ingredients is only one of the factors that contribute to the category’s growth, according to Steltenpohl. Packing disruption is another factor, and it’s important, especially in keeping long-term consumers, he mentioned.
“It’s one thing that makes healthy products that people will try, but getting that long-term, repeat purchase and makes it stable in everyone’s pantry and refrigerator, that takes a level of thoughts.”
Development pipeline in the New Year
Coming from a beverage entrepreneur background, Steltenpohl believes the combination of milk, creamer and coffee has endless creativity in beverage industry.
Even though Califia’s conventional and natural channels have grown equally for the past year, the company is now mainly focused on developing its natural channel.
“We’re institutionalizing our innovation programs, so that we’re specifically looking at using natural channels as incubation to create specialized products just for natural [channel].”
In addition, Steltenpohl said his company is emphasizing two main areas this year, including its cold-brew coffee and creamers. “One is extending our cold-brew coffee to other formats and other channels; the second thing is to take our creamers, and extend our creamer concepts into unsweetened creamers, and into the half and half subtitle.”
“We’re a young company. Our goal is to build a culture that’s focused on becoming the food and beverage company of the future,” Steltenpohl said.