What made you launch this drinks range?
Henry Chen: We had been importing a similar drink for around four to five years from Korea for the Asian/ Hispanic market in the US. We were selling around 200 containers a year and could see it had legs. We then decided to focus on building a better brand with a higher aloe content and a natural specification.
How long has it been in development and what was the launch date?
Chen: We launched in late 2008, but didn’t really get into distribution until summer of 2009. The product was in development for about a year before that. Now, we’re in distribution in just about all of the largest natural food channel distributors and conventional grocery distributors here in the US, such as Whole Foods.
The product is taking off in the US and Canada. International markets are our newest priority. We will be participating in the Sial show in Paris in October to find new distributors.
What are the names of the products in the range and their various benefits?
Chen: All of our drinks contain 25% aloe vera pulp and juice content, other juices, natural ingredients and water. We take the pulp and juice directly from the aloe vera plant; we do not reconstitute from powder. We add nothing artificial, not even thickeners or emulsifiers.
Aloe vera has been shown to help promote a healthy digestive system, has anti-inflammatory properties, and is a good source of essential amino acids and other nutrients. It has also been shown to help the absorption of vitamins. Many people drink 100% aloe juice (which doesn’t taste too good) for health reasons. Since we came out, we’ve received communications for many of these consumers thanking us for making something that is healthy and great-tasting.
We have seven unique flavours:
And the future?
Chen: We already have a focus on the natural grocery channels, but the mainstream channels are showing an interest. It’s also selling well through service stations in Canada such as PetroCanada, and through 7-11 stores there. To be honest, the international market wasn’t a focus, but with a less sweet formulation than the product we sold some years ago, we can see increasing demand in the west for this refreshing, premium and above all natural product.
Henry Chen is co-founder of US-based Alo Drink.
Claire Phoenix is managing editor of Beverage Innovation magazine. Subscribe here.
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