KÖE introduced two new flavors to its lineup at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) show last week in Atlanta. The pasteurized kombucha drink is packaged in cans and has a shelf life of up to one year.
After first being introduced last year in select markets like Southern California, the team at KÖE decided that its kombucha beverage needed a bit more work. The original formulation contained between 80-90 calories per 12oz can, which has been reduced to 35.
Each also contains 8g of sugar and between 13-16g of carbs. KÖE kept the flavors Blueberry Ginger, Raspberry Dragonfruit and Mango. The old Raspberry Lemon flavor is now Strawberry Lemonade, and Lemon Ginger became Lemon Lime.
The new flavors are designed to be more appealing to the public, Louisa Lawless, chief strategy officer at parent company Stratus Group, told BeverageDaily. The Blueberry Ginger is ideal for native kombucha drinkers, but for those needing convincing, the fruit-forward flavors are ‘a bit more palatable.’
“What we found was, the traditional kombucha drinkers really gravitate toward ginger, and the masses, they like more fruit forward flavors like Strawberry Lemonade,” Lawless said.
“For consumers that are typically not kombucha drinkers, we love surprising people and engaging them in a category that potentially has a barrier to enter.”
Canned packaging was also important to KÖE in appealing to a wider audience, as beverage consumers continue to demand convenience and portability out of their products.
The drinks have a shelf life of one year, compared to most bottled kombuchas that only last about three months. KÖE also does a long term fermentation process versus short term fermentation.
“We are a shelf stable kombucha, which is very unusual. We’re not first to market, but we feel like with the taste profile, it’s really accessible and convenient. We actually pasteurize the product, so you’re not going to get any sedimentation in the product that you typically would get,” Lawless said.
In kombucha’s rising popularity over the last few years, a majority of the well-known brands stick with the traditional dark glass bottles. But companies like Brew Dr. Kombucha, Kombucha Town, Kombucha Wonder Drink and Better Booch have all experimented with can packaging (often for its portability, or to provide a 'wide-mouth, aluminum can that allows for a smoother liquid flow and an unaldulterated taste with a clean finish', as Brew Dr. Kombucha puts it as it expanded into cans last year).
KÖE put its focus on cans for these reasons, as well as the recyclability and sustainability of aluminum as a packaging material. Cans also protect the integrity of the product if it is exposed to the elements in transportation.
Lawless said, “We wanted all of our distributors and retailers to feel really confident when they put it on the shelf that they got that full year of stability.”
The new KÖE line was on display at NACS, and the team is in the process of finalizing its national distribution. Chains like Albertsons, Safeway and Vons, and other c-stores will carry the kombucha in the northeast and southeastern US.
The first production run with the new formula is set for this month, with a full rollout in early 2020.