Milwaukee-based King Juice Co., Inc., maker of Calypso brand drinks, recently signed a distribution agreement with Big Geyser Inc., a non-alcoholic beverage distributor in the New York metro area.
The partnership will bring the company’s flagship product and its various flavors to the five boroughs of New York City and Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties.
According to King Juice Co. chief executive officer David Klavsons, Calypso grew 33% in 2019 and 62% in 2020, making it the second-largest player in the shelf-stable lemonade category, behind Minute Maid. Calypso has built a national and international distribution network reaching all 50 states and more than 20 countries.
Sizing up the competition
“If we double our business again, which is very aggressive but a reasonable target for us in the next couple years, we’re going to beat out Minute Maid for the No. 1 spot in shelf-stable bottled lemonade. You can imagine what that does. Think of Snapple in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Snapple was the first ready to drink tea that came to market and exploded. Next thing you know, everyone is into shelf-stable tea. Well, we’re really the first in shelf-stable bottled flavored lemonade. While lemonade has been there a long time, we were the first with flavored lemonade. I see this as a bit of a parallel to the Snapple story of years ago in terms of the brand growth and the opportunity we have because (Calypso) is so unique.”
“Distribution is the biggest opportunity we have now. We’ve got a terrific brand, positioning and great marketing support and innovation. We have to get after distribution at a more accelerated way. We’ve been able to grow distribution, but now is the time to double our distribution. … The international business has started to take off, so (we’re) expanding there. We just signed a big contract with Big Geyser, which is the largest distributor in New York. We had a terrific distributor there before, but they just didn’t have the scale to get after the market like we knew we had the potential to get after. Florida continues to be another opportunity for us where we’re filling out our distributor network that right now, nationally, is over 160 distributors.”
Finding the right mix
“Recently, with innovation, we extended our brand to ‘Lights,’ a zero-sugar, 5-calorie product, which is really difficult to do in lemonade. When you think of lemonade, you think of sweet and tart. Getting that right mix in a zero-sugar product is really difficult. To give you perspective, the carbonated soft drinks have about 25% of their business in low or no sugar. Teas are about 27% and lemonade was only 10%. There’s a reason for that. It’s really hard to do because of that sweet and tart mix and trying to do that without sugar. We took a year to do it and we figured it out. It’s a fantastic product and it’s done very well. Calypso surpassed the 10% in Kroger with our Calypso Light launch, delivering 15% of Calypso’s business in Kroger.”