- Rethink Brands, a boxed water company that launched the Rethink Kids Water brand last year, received a $6.7 million investment for growth and expansion, according to a company release. This round of funding is led by AccelFoods, the report says, and will be used to increase distribution throughout the U.S. and fund new product launches.
- The water contains zero calories, sodium or sugar. It is sold in more than 11,000 stores, including Walmart, Target and Kroger, according to the company. The organic kids’ water comes in four flavors: apple, berry, fruit punch and orange mango.
- “This funding marks a pivotal moment for Rethink,” CEO Matt Swanson said in a written statement. “We always knew we were on the right side of health trends and consumer priorities. By addressing the needs of children, we can make a real difference: creating a product that encourages healthy eating and drinking habits for our youth, while improving the buying and decision-making experience for parents. Giving our consumers more and better options and continually innovating our approach is key to our success."
Millennial shoppers are calling for healthier food and beverage items not only for themselves, but also for their children. As the largest spending block begins to start families of their own, it seems likely products such as Rethink Kids Water will capture consumer interest.
“As investors and working mothers, we are thrilled to have partnered with a brand that is bringing true innovation to the children's beverage category," Jordan Gaspar, managing partner at AccelFoods, told Food Ingredients First. "With young children of our own, we know first-hand the challenge of finding quality beverage products we feel good about giving our kids.”
Swanson and co-founder Chris O'Donovan came up with the idea for a kids product after discovering nothing similar existed on the market. Not only do the containers resemble the juice boxes many parents are familiar with, they note, but the use of boxes also jibes with the company's sustainability efforts. The cartons are made from 70% renewable paperboard, but their square shape means they also fit better into packing boxes than round bottles, so more products can be moved per shipping container. Plastic bottles, the executives noted, are often not recycled and end up hurting the environment. Some parents are also worried about cancer-causing BPAs used in plastic water bottles.
The company has seen impressive growth, going from a piece of paper to more than 5,000 retail stores within a year. The infusion of capital should step up the pace even more quickly.
Rethink's boxed water concept may be making waves in the kids' space, but the general packaging concept is nothing new. In 2009, Boxed Water is Better was the first national company to offer an alternative to plastic water bottles, while Icebox Water brought its spring water in paper-based cartons to market in 2010. Just Water debuted its paper-based bottle and plant-based cap in 2015.
“We are at the beginning of a generational revolution that’s going on,” Rob Koenen, CMO of Boxed Water, told BevNet last year. “I’m 50 and I have never seen this before. The millennials are now 20 to 37 years old and the largest spending age group in America and they are crazy passionate about the environment. They realize there’s an issue and we’re at this crux where 10 years ago, 15 years ago, these conversations weren’t happening.”
Manufacturers of boxed water likely are clamoring for the same group of customers — millennials who are willing to try something new to meet their desires for sustainable products. Still, Rethink seems to be onto something by jumping into the kid category. This strategy could yield solid growth as parents seek healthy alternatives to high-sugar beverage options.