DRY Sparkling to debut Fuji Apple at Target, pushing craft soda trend forward

By Douglas Yu contact

- Last updated on GMT

DRY Sparkling's latest Fuji Apple flavor
DRY Sparkling's latest Fuji Apple flavor

Related tags: Apple

DRY Sparkling just saw the first production of their latest Fuji Apple flavor run last week, which will be distributed nationwide at Target in April, the company told Beverage Daily.

Different from DRY’s previous products, Fuji Apple will only be available at Target for its first six months on the shelf, according to the company’s founder and CEO, Sharelle Klaus. DRY also received Target’s approval to have their “only at Target”​ logo on the packaging.

“Together, we believe their customers are really looking for an heirloom-inspired, yet familiar flavor from us like Fuji,”​ Klaus said.

Apple: a nostalgic and trendy flavor

Klaus said their Fuji Apple flavor tastes lightly sweet and contains clean ingredients.

“Apple is currently an emerging flavor trend. It’s relevant internationally, so it’s truly a global flavor, which consumers are currently gravitating towards,”​ Klaus said. “It’s also nostalgic, because everyone has memories of eating apples while growing up or they think back to the apple pies their grandma or mom used to make.”

As a Seattle-based company, Klaus added, the State of Washington is also well known for its good quality apples.

Fuji Apple will not be the only DRY product that appears on Target’s shelves, according to Klaus. However, she called the latest flavor a “gateway,”​ as many consumers are not familiar with their brands, but will understand Fuji Apple enough to try it.

“Once [the consumers] experience the different in a DRY flavor profile, which is much more crisp and dry than the other hyper-sweet apple beverages, they’ll want to try more from our line.”

On the other hand, maintaining a balance of flavor, sweetness and acidity across DRY’s products can be challenging, Klaus said. The consequence is the sugar levels vary among each of DRY’s range.

Cucumber has 11 grams of sugar in 12 oz. for a more savory flavor, while Vanilla Bean has 16 grams of sugar in a serving for a softer and more indulgent profile, Klaus said. Blood Orange, however, has higher acidity than Lavender.

“With Fuji Apple, we couldn’t quite get the acidity to balance, so we opted to use malic acid instead. This helped us achieve the exact right balance that we always strive for.”

Klaus said it will begin showing up on shelves through some of DRY’s other retail partners in October, as the company’s strategic priority this year is deepening its distribution across North America.

Craft soda market is booming like craft beer

Klaus told Beverage Daily a Neilsen report shows that craft soda is growing by 15%, as opposed to a 15% decline for regular carbonated soft drinks (CSD) across all channels in the US.

“Craft is driving 44% of the profit into the category,”​ she said.

Also, Simmons data shows more than 20m consumers in the US drink sparkling beverages, a segment that is expected to follow a trajectory similar to that of craft beer, where smaller brands are growing as customers preferences shift more towards bespoke flavor and brand experience.

Craft beer sales doubled to over $20m in sales in the past five years and are expected to nearly double again in the next five, a Mintel report shows.

However, Klaus is aware of the difference between the beer industry and the non-alcoholics segment. She said if craft soda achieves a fraction of the market size and growth of craft beer, it will mean big changes in the CSD category.

In the next 10 years, Klaus believes there will be more brands entering the craft soda category.

“Big companies are getting busy either creating their own small craft brands, or will strategically partner with or buy up the boutique brands.”

Additional flavors planned

At the past Winter Fancy Food Show, DRY did a limited private tasting of their two summer seasonal flavors, which are expected to enter the market nationwide in June, and to remain on shelves through the end of summer.

“We haven yet publicly announced these, but initial reactions from buyers have been very positive,”​ Klaus said.

DRY is also busy finalizing a special Holiday offering. According to Klaus, it will be in specialized holiday packaging.

Currently, DRY is the number one growth contributor in dollars in what Nielsen calls the “premium and new age”​ category, Klaus added.

“We’re also the fastest growing brand in the traditional grocery space. We nearly doubled our business in 2015 over 2014.”

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