Petal ditches stevia after finding it ‘polarizing’ with consumers

By Beth Newhart contact

- Last updated on GMT

Petal spends a lot of time developing a supply chain that meets their needs and standards.
Petal spends a lot of time developing a supply chain that meets their needs and standards.

Related tags: botanicals, Sparkling water, functional beverage

Sparkling botanical blend Petal - a cross between herbal tea, soda and functional water - has reformulated its core line of drinks less than a year after launching in May 2018. The new recipe is sweetened with organic agave, rather than stevia.

When Petal launched last year,​ it was as a zero calorie beverage in three flavors: Original Rose, Mint Rose and Lychee Rose. These flavors are now re-launching with 10 calories per 12oz can.

Elderberry White Tea Flower, Lemongrass Dandelion (with a hint of strawberry) and Peach Marigold (with a hint of basil) are the latest flavors to join the product lineup, with 15 calories per can. Each flavor also contains about 3g of sugar.

Founder and CEO of Petal Candice Crane told BeverageDaily that the old formula needed updating to accommodate a wider range of palates, eliminating an aftertaste.

“Sometimes consumers find stevia polarizing because it can leave quite an aftertaste. It’s not necessarily bad, but some people don’t like it. So we wanted to make the drink a little more gulpable,”​ she said.

The main pillar of the Petal brand is its emphasis on botanicals. Crane described them as ancient elixirs and remedies that have been passed on throughout the ages, and Petal is trying to revive them in a modern way.

Crane said it is sometimes a challenge to find and source organic ingredients, and the company spends a lot of time developing a supply chain that meets their needs and standards. They launched locally in Chicago last year with two small distributors.

“We’re the perfect fit for natural stores, but it’s funny that conventional stores are really driving the natural sector. They’re sick and tired of being second to market and following the natural channels,”​ she said.

“We’ve had a ton of conventional retailers reach out to us because they don’t want to miss the boat on bringing in the natural and forward-thinking brands. It’s quite exciting to see the shift in the way people are buying and how conscious they are about healthier beverages and food.”

Expansion plans

The newly revamped Petal products launched last month at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco in partnership with World Finer Foods. They will act as Petal’s master distributor and also handle sales and marketing tasks.

World Finer Foods CEO Susan Guerin said, "I was instantly drawn to Petal’s fresh and innovative beverage concept. The brand’s packaging pops off the shelf. We look forward to bringing Petal to consumers across the US, wherever they shop.”

According to Crane, World Finer Foods has network of brokers throughout the country, and with them Petal plans to expand into new regions and into larger, strategic retailers. The beverages are also sold online at Amazon.com, with more digital channels in the works.

“We feel that Petal sits at the intersection of two large segments, flavored sparkling water and functional beverages. We’re a combination of both of those segments, and our ambition is to lead and own the sparkling botanicals category,”​ she said.

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