AquaBall distribution gains fuel True Drinks Q1 growth

AquaBall updated its packaging to a less spherical shape for easier use and drinkability, the company said.

True Drinks, maker of children’s sugar-free flavored water brand AquaBall, has posted first quarter revenue of $1.5m and a gross revenue forecast of $10m for 2017, driven by recent expanded distribution to 14,000 US stores.

The distribution expansion came after True Drinks raised $3.6m in March 2017 to help extend its reach into mainstream grocery and convenience store channels, the company said.

AquaBall is a vitamin-enhanced, zero-calorie, fruit-flavored water intended as a healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened drinks in the children’s beverage market.

The company said its target audience includes children, young adults, and their guardians.

“Our distribution network continues to grow and, with it, our retail presence,” True Drinks CEO, James Greco, said.

“As a result, our sales volumes and velocity continue to grow by double-digit percentages far outstripping that of other children's beverages."

2016: Transitional year

The company repositioned itself last year with a new flavored water formulation for AquaBall and a bottling partnership with Niagara Bottling which enabled the company to remove preservatives through the use of a hot fill process.

The company also redesigned its packaging to allow entrance into the convenience store channel by making a slimmed down version of its rounded bottle, along with a wider mouth opening making it easier for kids to open, drink, and hold.

“We have maintained gross margin in the high thirties, and we continue to work on making cost improvements to our packaging. Heading into the summer, we will continue to spend to promote AquaBall at our retailers and in our key markets," Greco said.

The brand is currently available in four flavors (fruit punch, grape, strawberry lemonade, and berry) and sold in major grocery and convenience channels including Food Lion, 7-Eleven, Albertsons, HEB, Safeway, and Stop&Shop.

Positioned for market success

The children’s bottled water market has been expanding in recent years with a lot more room for growth, according to Zenith International.

The category is projected to grow by 7% each year through 2021 driven by the rising prevalence of childhood obesity attributed to sugary drinks and food.

“Health and wellness awareness has increased significantly, resulting in growing demand for beverages with little or no calories and natural ingredients,” Greco said.

“AquaBall is directly responsive to this need for children, and we plan to increase our offerings for this and other age groups.”

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