Starting as a seemingly fleeting fad in America in 2005, US sales of coconut water exploded to US$350million within just three years. In Europe, sales doubled in 2011 alone.1 Some predictions see the value of the coconut water industry rapidly reaching US$1 billion worldwide.
Coca-Cola and Pepsi have invested in coconut water companies, and around three in every ten beverages being released to the market contain coconut water.2 Many analysts, including BevNet CEO John Craven, believe it’s “the next big thing in the global drinks industry”.
Three young Australasian entrepreneurs are leading the charge Down Under, initially targeting Australia and the under-developed New Zealand market. Sydney-based entrepreneurs Adam Abrams and Julian Tobias, and beverage manufacturing and distribution specialist Zac Jex, identified the potential back in 2009.
“We were in LA and coconut water was just huge,” says Abrams. “There was so much hype about the health benefits – it’s nature’s hydrator, packed with potassium and has zero fat. Its rise has coincided with consumers moving away from carbonated drinks.” They knew this could be a real business opportunity, and decided to launch their own Antipodean brand.
C Coconut Water was founded with a clear point of difference: unlike most of their competitors, C Coconut Water is 100% organic, certified carbon neutral, and doesn’t come in a range of flavours.”
“Our consumers are health-conscious and socially aware, and so are we. Our product is all about purity. It’s unnatural to add flavours to such a natural product. And it just makes sense – why wouldn’t you want to have the most natural product possible?’”
It took them over a year to find a consistent supply of organic coconuts with the right taste – “Some are too salty, some too sweet.” – and package them in TetraPaks, rather than the usual cans.
“We could have had our product to market in a third of the time if we hadn’t been adamant about the quality of our coconut water and the packaging,” explains Abrams. “TetraPaks give our product another real point of difference, as they maintain the freshness and taste like a real coconut.”
They believe equally strongly in giving back to the small local community in the Philippines were they grow their coconuts. “We are an ethical company, and that’s one of our founding principles,” explains Abrams. “This was personally important to us, but is also something that we know is important to our consumers.”
C Coconut Water has doubled turnover every year since launch. They already have more than 500 stockists in New Zealand and over 2,000 in Australia, with 25 new stockists coming on board every week. Their plans include expansion into South Africa, Japan, Asia and even taking on the big names in Europe.
“We see coconut water becoming a staple drink like orange juice. It’s up to our independent brand from the bottom of the world to capitalise on this and go global.”