Harris Freeman’s fledgling PureSteeps incubation unit is wasting no time scaling its Secret Squirrel acquisition, broadening line and shuttering small mfg operation in LA in favor of Fresh Bev copacker in Conn, with plans to reinstate West Coast production at bigger plant in LA area for which co is undertaking site search. Meanwhile, cold-brewed brand has entered 380 Target stores on West Coast with its 3 RTD latte entries.
Given Harris Freeman’s identity as major tea purveyor, Secret Squirrel has moved boldly into nascent cold-brew tea segment, launching Rwanda Black and Sencha Green entries last year and augmenting them with Mint Green entry at Expo West. Using mint grown in Ore, latter entry attempts to be “slightly edgy,” said evp Sai Chaluvadi. On core coffee side it’s titled its black coffee RTD line to USDA-certified organic status and augmented its unsweetened Original Brew entry with more indulgent Lightly Sweet, Maple & Brown Sugar and Cinnamon & Brown Sugar entries. They go out at $3.89 per 12-oz bottle. And 3-sku dairy line adds 2 more flavors, with New Orleans-style Chicory Coffee and unusual Citrus Caramel Latte joining Caffe Latte, Vietnamese and Dark Chocolate Mocha entries, priced at $4.39 per 12-oz bottle. Those extensions were driven by insight that Viet entry was outselling other flavors by 2X or more, said Sai. “No one is doing this,” he said, likely without overstatement, about citrus-inflected Citrus Caramel Latte entry.
Meanwhile, it’s turned Secret Squirrel founder Trevor Smith loose on more recent acquisition, Kombucha Wonder Drink, with ex-agency creative redoing KWD logo and positioning to play up its authentic Ore roots and helping with launch of culinary-inspired kombuchas. KWD, recall, was founded by Tazo cofounder Steve Lee, who’s now running PureSteeps. The new culinary entries, which are perishable, are augmented with probiotics and debut in Honey Lavender, Strawberry Basil and Thai Carrot flavors, created with help of British-born chef Benjamin Smith, around whom campaign promoting line will be created. They go out at $3.59-3.99, premium to shelf-stable core glass-bottle entries at $2.99-3.19. That core line has been reinforced with prebiotics, which are added after pasteurization process. Some flavors have been tweaked in line available in 8 bottled flavors and 5 canned ones, such as Cherry & Black Currant, Asian Pear & Ginger and Apple & Juniper Mint. That’s a lot accomplished, Chaluvadi observed with satisfaction, referring to Nov acquisition of KWD.
As for new production site, it may or may not be co-located with Harris Freeman’s current SoCal operation, with proximity to HPP tolling source a key factor, Sai indicated.