Founded in 2011, the company has grown its volume sales by 40% between 2013 and 2014, roughly 30% in 2015, and around 20% in 2016, according to True Citrus CEO Al Soricelli.
According to Soricelli, True Citrus has benefitted from the overall movement of consumers reading food and beverage labels and a shift towards mindful eating and drinking.
“It’s no longer a trend,” he told BeverageDaily. “I view it very much as the cost of doing business and our accelerated growth was partially due to that.”
True Citrus is a crystallized powder made from the juice and oil of citrus fruits including lemon, lime, and orange. The company’s multiple patented powder formulas are gluten-free and do not contain any artificial sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives.
One box of 10 packets retails for $1.99 at major grocery chains including Walmart, Target, Kroger, and Publix.
Flavor is king
Soricelli, who has been in the food and beverage industry for more than 40 years, has seen brands come and go, largely due to poor flavor delivery.
“If you don’t taste good, you’re going to fail,” he said.
True Citrus recently tripled the size of its R&D lab in Baltimore, Maryland, according to Soricelli, and has been developing new flavors as well as making sure its original products maintain their quality.
This year, the company launched its strawberry lemonade and wild berry lemonade flavors based on “culinary and secondary” information and research as well as consumer input. The company analyzes what has been successful and selling in the flavored water segment.
“The one thing that has been very consistent over the last three to four years is that berries have been very hot both in terms of bottled water and delivering of flavor and health,” Soricelli said.
“We’re capitalizing on the goodness connotation of berries that everybody seems to be on board with.”
True Citrus will be at Expo West in Anaheim, California, this year with the two new flavors along with their original core products.
Building awareness for powdered beverage category
Soricelli identified several key advantages to crystallized powder, including cost-efficiency, convenience, and consistency.
A powdered beverage format does not risk any flavor degradation and is shelf stable for up to three years, according to True Citrus.
“One of the things that I keep on fighting for is to build awareness of the idea of the powdered soft drink category and the reason being is the idea of the exact flavor consistency each and every time because the ingredients are enrobed and do not deteriorate,” he said.
It also can fit well into the health and wellness space by encouraging consumers to drink more water, but with True Citrus they can do so with variety and on-the-go convenience at a low cost for the manufacturer and the consumer.