Kiwi entrepreneurs launch the sweetest coconut water drink
Kiwi entrepreneurs launch the sweetest coconut water drink
Coconut water brands are not all made equal, according to Kiwi born entrepreneurs Grier Govorko and Steve Gilberd, founders and directors of Coco’s Coconut Company, New Zealand’s first coconut water brand. Govorko says most of the coconut water on the market doesn’t taste great because the producers use old coconuts, pasteurise the product twice and use either tetra pak or plastic based packaging.
While living in South East Asia and drinking coconut water daily on the streets of Bangkok and then tasting the commercial version served up in the West, they knew there had to be a better way to create a great tasting product that was closer to the real taste of fresh coconut water.
There is simply no disputing that Coaqua, the brand of coconut water Govorko and Gilberd are launching in New Zealand in 2014, has a sweeter and fresher taste compared to other brands on the market. If you haven’t been a convert to coconut water for its health benefits, then you will be converted by the refreshing natural taste of Coaqua.
They set about researching the category four years ago. Govorko knows the US market well having lived in Los Angeles and rising to the top of his profession after 20 years as the production designer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He made a call to his friend (and former employer) Anthony Kiedis, the front man for Red Hot Chili Peppers.
He asked Kiedis if he was drinking coconut water and if the product was being offered to the band on tour. To his surprise, Kiedis confirmed he was not only drinking it but had invested in a brand called Vita Coco along with Madonna and Rihanna. Vita Coco was the pioneer brand of coconut water to hit the US shelves back in 2006 and holds a 60% market share of the coconut water category there. Govorko estimates the US market for coconut water is over USD$400 million and expects it to continue growing as the category matures.
Govorko and Gilberd initially thought the coconut water market in the US was too crowded - but after further research they saw a gap in the market. “We tasted every brand of coconut water we could and saw that all the competitors were copying Vita Coco or were positioning their brands as sports hydration alternatives. No one was catering for the hospitality market so we started looking at what opportunities existed,” says Gorvorko.
Their benchmark was the coconut water they consumed on the streets of South East Asia and found all the brands they tasted were coming well under par when it came to replicating the naturally sweet taste of coconut water after it had been freshly picked and cut. They put two and two together and concluded the age of the coconut held the key to the drink’s natural sweetness. The established brands were sourcing water from large commercial plantations where water from old coconuts is pasteurised, then shipped in massive bladders, packaged and pasteurised again, before final boxing and shipping to market. All of this was contributing to the inferior taste.
Coaqua’s founders tracked down a suitable supplier in Vietnam where the coconuts are harvested in the Mekong Delta region, a beautiful fertile area where there is an incredible abundance of coconuts on the trees. Small-scale family farmers harvest the whole coconuts that are then shipped two hours up the river on barges to Ho Chi Minh City where the water is bottled. The supplier has strict instructions to maintain the levels of naturally occurring sugar and protect the taste and freshness of the raw product.
The combination of Govorko's creative success in the US music industry and Gilberd's 25 years experience in food and beverage has brought about the creation of the Coaqua brand.
The result is great tasting coconut water in a stylish bottle with a unique brand identity that features Coco, the company’s enigmatic figurehead relaxing in the hammock. It’s an image that embodies the tropics and evokes languid holidays at the beach.
Govorko says that from the very beginning they were committed to not using plastic or tetra pak containers. “Not only are they bad for the environment, they also just don’t look good, especially for the high end and luxury customers we want to reach. With our superior product and packaging we are focused on upmarket bars, boutique hotels, spas, airports, airlines - anywhere competitors can’t go.”
Coaqua is distributed nationwide by red + white cellars. New Zealand is the test market where it is currently being sold in bars, restaurants and specialty food markets like Farro. Govorko and Gilberd are ambitious and are thinking big in export terms with their sights set on the US. They have already signed a distribution deal with a premium lifestyle hotel brand opening its first US property in Miami in the next few months.
Global distribution is the ultimate goal but naturally Govorko is keen to see Coaqua on the shelves of the USA’s hot spots, a market he knows, is connected into and understands. They also have line extensions in the pipeline with other sparkling and fruit variations of coconut water.
about coconut water
• Young coconut water is one of the highest sources of electrolytes in nature and scientists have discovered that the molecular structure of coconut water is identical to human blood plasma (David Wolfe, Eating For Beauty). Our blood is made up of 55% plasma and 45% hemoglobin. Ingesting coconut water is like giving your body an instant blood transfusion. In fact, during World War II, in the Pacific, both sides of the conflict regularly used coconut water, siphoned directly from the coconut, to give emergency plasma transfusions to wounded soldiers.
• Coconut water benefits and coconut water nutrition are numerous due to the amount of essential nutrients it contains, which include vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, amino acids, antioxidants, enzymes and growth hormones
• Coconut water is a rich source of major minerals, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium, in addition to the trace elements iodine, zinc, sulfur, selenium, sulfur, manganese, boron and molybdenum.
• One of the main coconut water health benefits comes from its electrolyte content and explains coconut water benefits associated with its use as a popular sports rehydration drink.
• Coconut water has relatively no fat content and is comparatively lower in sugar than other fruit juices. It contains a fifth of the sugar content that other fruits do, yet has a mildly sweet taste.
• Coconut water health benefits include increasing rehydration, boosting the immune system, decreasing heat stroke, increasing blood circulation in diabetics and anti-aging treatments.