After launching in California in 2013, Koia debuted in Whole Foods nationwide. Publix, Wegmans and other regional retailers now carry the original collection of five drinks, as well as its recent line of three fruit infusions.
New to the portfolio is Koia Keto, a beverage specifically targeted to those who adhere to a ketogenic diet or those looking for a healthy, sweet-flavored RTD option. Koia Keto launches with Chocolate Brownie, Cake Batter, and Caramel Crème.
According to Koia CEO and co-founder Chris Hunter, those on a keto diet typically have to give up decadent, sweet desserts because keto is low-sugar. The brand worked closely with Whole Foods on the new line to develop something that is both a sweet treat and also keto-friendly.
“Keto people are usually sacrificing decadent flavors and dessert options, so we talked to Whole Foods about filling that gap. Koia Keto is a plant-based keto option that really is pretty close to the ideal keto macro-nutrition ratios,” Hunter told BeverageDaily.
Keto diets tend to lean heavily on animal protein and dairy with an ideal of 80% of daily calories coming from fat, 15% coming from protein and 5% coming from carbs. Hunter said Koia Keto is ‘very close’ to that.
The drinks are primarily a coconut cream based with 14g of MCT oil, 22g of fat, 12g of plant-based protein (pea, rice and chickpea), with a total of five net carbs. They also contain 0g of added sugar and reach a ratio of 74% fat, 18% protein and 8% carbs.
Label staying power
It’s unusual for beverages to be specifically marketed toward a certain dietary restriction, like keto, paleo or gluten-free. But with diets like these becoming more popular in the health and wellness communities, more health-focused brands are taking this route.
Existing drinks like water, coffee and tea are already keto-friendly, but they aren’t marketed as such. Koia wanted to keep things simple by labeling the new drinks clearly, letting their health-conscious customers know the difference among their products.
“We’ve seen that there’s a lot of uncertainty around the keto diet. A lot of people are interested in it but they’re not sure exactly how to go about it or exactly sure what they can eat or drink when they’re trying to be in ketosis,” Hunter said.
Hunter believes that though the trend is still relatively new and complicated, ketogenic diets and lifestyles have potential staying power in the mainstream. There’s been a movement to develop a keto certification in labeling, much like non-GMO and organic products. And as more people try out the diet, more brands will comply with keto launches and labels.
Koia Keto will be sold exclusively in Whole Foods for the first six months of 2019 before expanding to other retail partners. Coinciding with the launch is Koia’s direct-to-consumer platform on the brand website. For the first time, consumers will be able to purchase Koia products online, in bulk and through a subscription service.