Role Tea secures Whole Foods listing with eye on nationwide expansion

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Role Tea aims to be available in 25 Whole Food stores by mid-June, the company said.
Role Tea aims to be available in 25 Whole Food stores by mid-June, the company said.

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Role Tea, a turmeric-based RTD iced tea, has launched in select Whole Foods locations in the mid-Atlantic US and aims to double and possibly triple its Whole Foods retail footprint by June 2017.

The company​ aims to be in 15 to 25 Whole Food stores by mid-June this year.

“Our short-term focus is becoming a household name in the DC Metro area where we're based,”​ Role Tea founder, Mike Johnson, told BeverageDaily.

“We certainly have our eyes on an eventual national expansion but we want to make sure it's done intelligently and at the right time.”

More flavors to come

Priced at $2.99 per 12-ounce bottle hopes to reach consumers who are concerned about health as well as price point.

It took Johnson and co-founder, Koray Benson, over 60 iterations to land on the brand's three blended flavors.

The three blends span from a 10 calorie, no sugar or sweetener added option to two options sweetened with cane sugar or honey. Every blend contains 400mg of either water-soluble turmeric or cinnamon extract to help support a better inflammation response in the body.

The company plans to continue driving flavor innovation and will launch new flavors in Q3 2017, according to Johnson.

“Our most diehard fans will have a say in what our next limited edition blend will be,”​ he said. 

“We plan to utilize our Instagram account to announce ways to participate in the selection or sampling of our next limited edition blend.”

Reaching non-grocery channels

Role Tea launched five months ago in mostly independent specialty stores. Its extension into select Whole Foods locations in Washington D.C., northern Virginia, and Maryland represents a significant portion of the company’s business to date, according to Johnson.  

“Being in Whole Foods just five months since launch is a major win for us,”​ Johnson said.

At the request of its growing customer base, the company is exploring distribution outside of grocery retail, Johnson added.

“Over the next few years, we plan to grow outwards up to New York, down to North Carolina and out to the Ohio and Kentucky regions,”​ he said.

“We are also looking to add distribution in strategic non-grocery channels like corporate campuses, senior living facilities, select fast-casuals and convenience stores.”

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