Icebox water, housed in compostable cartons instead of PET bottles, is resonating with sustainability-minded, thirsty consumers.
The brand has been around since 2007 but has been given new life by a change in ownership. Andrew Reynolds told FoodProductionDailiy.com that his firm, Reynolds and Company Venture Partners, saw potential in the product’s standout packaging and eco-friendly message.
“Current management came on in the beginning of 2012,” said Reynolds. “Since then, we have begun to change the package, constantly evolving to bring a better product to the market.”
Their efforts seem to have paid off.
“Sales within our two largest distributors were up over 100% each without heavy promotional activity,” Reynolds said.
The carton (provided by Norway-based Elopack) is composed of Forest Stewardship Council-certified pressed paper and cardboard, printed with vegetable-based dyes. It also contains a thin aluminium barrier, and a bpa-free polymer tier layer. The container (available in 500-mL and 1-L versions) can be composted or recycled after the contents are drained dry.
The difference between the cartoned water and PET bottles goes beyond square vs. round. According to Reynolds, the carton avoids myriad problems associated with PET, including plastic-packaging litter and carbon footprint.
Icebox water reportedly boasts a carbon footprint 76% smaller than the average PET water bottle. Also, the water inside is from a natural spring, bottled at the source.
The company uses eco-friendly UV light to filter the water before it is flowed into the filling machine. Then, the cartons are erected, filled and sealed before being put in cases and sent further down the distribution chain.
Icebox also has a total dissolved solids (TDS) count of 32 mg/L, which ranks it among the lowest TDS-count waters on the market.
Reynolds told FPD he attributes the brand’s growth to product quality, and its effectiveness in reaching consumers with its environmental and health benefits.
“We are getting better at educating the consumer quickly as to why this is a better choice and we will continue to do so,” he said. “Additionally, consumers care about their health and enjoyment.”
Reynolds told FPD that Icebox has continuously sought input from consumers to ensure the product is on target.
“We’ve seen great feedback,” he said. “Oftentimes people want to know why no one has thought of this sooner.”
Reynolds added that consumers have indicated they find that Icebox has a “smooth, soft taste” compared to other bottled waters.
Resonating with retailers
Additionally, Reynolds said, the Icebox product is striking a high note with sellers.
“Retailers are happy and we’re seeing a lot of success at small on premise sites like yoga studios, where their audience typically really appreciates what we are trying to accomplish with the product,” he said.
Icebox water is sold at independent and natural food stores nationally, as well as retailers like H-E-B in Texas, Whole Foods in Northern California and the Rocky Mountain region (Colorado, Utah, Kansas, New Mexico).
Reynolds said that the company has focused on selling in the US natural specialty space, but they are looking to expand.
“We welcome opportunities and will speak to any potential partner/retailer,” he said.