Consumer interest in healthy eating remains at the forefront of the industry. In fact, there might not be a better time for The Healthy Beverage Co. and its Steaz beverage products, CEO and Executive Chairman Jay Garnett says. “More conventional grocers are realizing the trend to better-for-you products, and turning to brands like Steaz,” he says. “The general consumer trend is people are far more aware of what is in the beverages they [drink].”
The Doylestown, Pa.-based company specializes in such beverages as Green tea-based iced tea, Sparkling tea and energy beverage products. Originally, Healthy Beverage started operations in 2002 with the idea of creating a healthy soda. The company began with a green tea-based soda line before introducing its own energy drinks in 2006 and iced teas in 2008.
Today, Garnett says, almost every major natural grocery retailer in the United States sells Steaz drinks, including Whole Foods Market Inc. “The 24- to 34-year-old professional female is our primary customer,” he says. “They are the influencers of the household.”
Healthy Beverage also has connected to its end-users through such social media sites as Twitter and Facebook, and often receives messages about how much they like the products. “We have very loyal [fans],” he says.
The company also has strong relationships with its retailers and recently met with Whole Foods at its Global Head Office in Austin, Texas. There, Healthy Beverage walked Whole Foods Leadership through its 2012 plan so “they know what to expect from Steaz,” Garnett says. “We also [discussed] how we can work together for mutual success.”
Garnett is a veteran of the beverage business and originally got his start in the coffee industry launching and running Seattle’s Best Coffee in Canada. “A lot of what I learned about consumers is relatable from Coffee to tea,” he says.
In addition, Garnett is the founder, president and CEO of Whitefish Group, a strategic brand management company. “Whitefish has been involved with Steaz for over five years, initially launching Steaz in Canada, then becoming an investor, and now leading the brand,” he says. “It’s enabled a small, evolving company with a great opportunity to have the access and discipline of seasoned management.”
He adds that he is proud of Healthy Beverage and how it has operated with a staff of only 19 people. “We’re just a great, small knit team, [but] very open and honest,” he says. “We garner lot of brand awareness for our size.”
Healthy Beverage has gained this awareness by delivering on its promises. “We have a great product with clean ingredients that tastes great,” he states. “We are socially aware, from our socially responsible buying practices to our carbon neutral production to our charitable involvement and contributions.”
Healthy Beverage is at work on several new products, including an antioxidant, fruit iced tea. In addition, Garnett says, the company will launch more zero-calorie versions of its drinks this year.
Already, it has had success in the zero-calorie field. “Three of our SKUs were in the top five of all the SKUs launched in [the] zero-calorie [category] last year,” he declares. “Our flavor profiles were very well received.”
Garnett adds that Healthy Beverage is ready for growth into Food Service. “Restaurants are evolving to get healthier,” he says. “as the market leaders evolve their menu offerings, naturally what has to happen is all of the complementary products in their establishments need to evolve as well.”
“Major national chains realize that their beverage [programs] have to evolve,” he says. “The customer expects a certain level of quality and ingredients.”
For its logo, Steaz has chosen a design representing 12 tea leaves. “Twelve is a spiritual number across many religions, and also represents the 12 months of the year,” it says. “For us, the intertwined leaves represent the harmony between energy, humanity and spirituality, while celebrating the power of the mind, body and soul.”