Giles Brook, CEO for Europe, Middle East and North Africa, told FoodNavigator that the company is very close to signing an agreement with a large distributor in the region.
Speaking on the sidelines of Gulfood 2014, the Middle East’s biggest annual food and beverage industry show, Brook said that after successfully launching and dominating the US, UK and Europe, the company is firmly looking international.
“The Middle East is one of our target markets. At Gulfood, we have found that the market here is very educated about coconut water and its benefits and that works in our favour,” said Brook.
“We think there is a significant opportunity in the markets here. You could say that we would be in five to six of the main markets here within the next three to six months.”
According to Brook, three definite factors work in the brand’s favour in the Middle East. “I think the climate helps of course. The hot climate creates an opportunity for a refreshing drink like ours. Then there is culture. People understand coconut water and its benefits.”
On top of that, Brook pointed out there is a movement of drinking and eating healthily around the world and especially the Middle East, which has been wracked by a growing rate of diabetes and obesity.
“Our 330ml pack of natural coconut water has less than 60 calories and the sugar levels are nearly 40-60% less than what is found in smoothies and juices,” he said.
Brook said they would go with a localised brand strategy and on the evidence of what he has seen with their pilot in a couple of supermarkets in the region, they may price the products a little lower than in Europe.
“These markets operate 15-20% cheaper than Europe. We want to make sure we offer a product that is available to all and not end up being a premium product available to only a few,” he added.
Vita Coco recently launched in Japan, Taiwan and China and will be looking at other Asian markets soon. Brook also pointed out that the company is launching a product in Europe targeted at kids in a few weeks time.
“We are also looking at North Africa intently. We are looking at two or three markets there that look great. Pricing will be a challenge in these markets and so we are doing the research to make sure we will be competitive,” he added, indicating that those markets may be entered in 2015-16.
Launched in 2004, Vita Coco claims to currently have a 61% market share in the US, whereas in Europe, it claims to have a 90% share.