Karviva's brand story was featured in the February 9th edition of Beverage Business Insights, a newsletter reaching those in the food and beverage industries.
Beverage Business Insights provides a newsletter full of cutting edge industry news to subscribers in the food and beverage industry. The newsletter features up-and-coming brands, state-of-the-art technologies, and new trends that are cropping up throughout the industry.
Beverage Business Insight's recent feature of the Karviva brand story is below.
Short Ingredient List and Asian Nutrition at the Root of Inspiration for Karviva
St. Louis-based pathology Ph.D. who earlier worked in the juice industry is building a line of plant-based tonics called Karviva that employ a short list of functional ingredients to capture Asian wellness precepts in ready-to-drink format, promising "The Root of Good Health," per label copy.
Founder of Karviva Beverages is China-born Angela Zeng, who came to the US in 1996 to pursue her doctorate in pathology at St. Louis University and followed that with MBA from Washington University. After a stint in pharmaceuticals, she went to work as a US representative for China's Hengtong Juice, producer of apple juice concentrate that counts Coke among customers. But she needed to scratch that entrepreneurial itch, and she saw an opportunity in the business that would bring more people to plant-based nutrition while combating food waste by capturing the full range of nutrition in fruits and vegetables used as ingredients.
How is Karviva Different?
What some green-juice players do - extracting only water and water-soluble components in their processes - is "just insane," outspoken Zeng argues. So she teamed with husband Dr. Shawn Hu and food scientist Zebin Wang to create Karviva, "compassion" in Sanskrit. They've set up their own hotfill plant in St. Louis, Missouri - including a vertical bean sprout farm - and launched five new plant-based beverages. They're self-funded so far, although Karviva is prepping for its first outside capital raise.
Five Plant-Based Product Lines
The five-flavor lines are packaged in 12-oz glass bottles decorated with the emblem of Buddhist icon, the Bodhi tree, created by design shop Flood Creative, whose beverage clients have included Core Water, Body Armor sports drinks, NOS Energy and Fuze functional beverages. In contrast to the "over-compounding" of other juice players, Karviva offers no more than three key ingredients - say, black soybean and quinoa in Divine Three or chestnut and flaxseeds in Divine Chestnut. Those two plant-base nutritional shakes, priced at $3.49, comprise the Fuel product line offering modest protein lift, as an alternative to other shakes whose over-engineered recipes make them basically "a copycat of baby formula" to Zeng.
Also in the mix is Karviva's Hydrate line, including Fruity Longan and Sunny Date - both sweetened with monk fruit, lowering the drink to only 30 calories - at a $2.99 price point. They're inspired by refreshing Chinese fruit tea entries to offer "sensory hydration" rather than blunt flavor impact of apple juice and the like.
The beverages are rounded out by Heal product line, available in the ever-popular Bean Sprout & Aronia Berry flavor, at $3.99.
New Products on the Way
Zeng envisions expanding the brand to include items such as black soybean coffee, nutritional bars, savory spreads and even aronia-based jams and wines. Work is under way on the bars and the coffee, which will use whole coffee beans aged in wine barrels and black soybean to create mocha flavor.
Zeng readily admits there's work to be done: in upgrading from current "salad dressing bottle" to a proprietary bottle, in clarifying label copy that makes it difficult to read ingredients, and in resolving patchwork processing mix that renders some products shelf-stable and others not. (Moving to the different package would be required to make them all shelf-stable, Angela says.) Karviva has enlisted local St. Louis digital marketing firm Paradigm New Media Group to devise the digital strategy and create the website.
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