This is 100 per cent pure watermelon water, free of preservatives and without added sugar, and its release is well timed with New Year’s Day reports predicting that watermelon water and seeds will be the superfood of this year.
H2coco CEO David Freeman, speaking exclusively to Inside FMCG before the product’s launch, says watermelon water has many hydration benefits with electrolytes and lycopene – a phytonutrient found in red fruits and vegetables.
While Freeman says coconut water was new to most people, watermelon water is a product people have known their whole lives. “Whether it’s been your favourite type of fruit, lolly flavour or lip balm, whatever it is, it has been in your life. It has just not been available in Australia before as a packaged, readyto-drink product.”
Long shelf life
Freeman came up with the concept when he tried cold-pressed watermelon in the USA. He first contemplated moving into cold-press products, but realised it was not the best fit for the current H2coco business structure.
“There are some really great brands making coldpressed watermelon water,” he says, “but the thing we are doing differently with H2melon is providing long shelf life without adding water, preservatives or anything like that. We keep it 100 per cent natural and pure. “Hopefully, by producing it this way we can get the product to more people looking to quench their thirst with a taste alternative and avoid drinks with added sugar.”
When H2coco launched six years ago, it was one of the first coconut waters to hit the Australian market. But while the company had first-mover advantage in the market, the lack of product awareness saw its coconut water being quickly funnelled into the health-food category. “Over the years we’ve had to work to pull it out and be a bit more mainstream. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re working on it, especially with the new flavours, like Cocoespresso and CocoChoc.”
Freeman believes H2melon has a lot more mainstream potential. “From the lessons I’ve learnt, the ups and downs I’ve had, everything we’ve been through with coconut water, I feel that we can launch H2melon in a much more prominent and dominant way. We will be smarter because we have learned a lot,” Freeman says.
“We’re going to have some fun with it, too. We’re not just going to focus on the health benefits like coconut water. It’s going to be more like, ‘This product tastes great, it’s fun, it’s a lifestyle and it also has health benefits’.”
Freeman has been talking with all the major supermarkets, and though stockists cannot be revealed yet, consumers can expect to see H2melon in supermarket aisles in March. It will most likely sit on shelves in the functional water category, alongside brother brand H2coco. Following the supermarket launch, H2melon will be rolled out in petrol stations and convenience stores. For Freeman, this launch is more exciting than when he introduced H2coco to the market.
“Innovation is what will separate us ahead of other brands in the market,” he says. “I want to focus on bringing out the right products at the right times, launching them the right way, making sure we know who our consumers are, who we target with our marketing and making sure the launch is right – right place, right time, right location.” At the same time, the company is also focussing on export growth for its coconut-water products.
H2coco was launched in Australia and New Zealand at the same time, and now the priority is to expand into the UK and China.
“I think they are major markets with huge growth potential. There are coconut-water brands there already, so we won’t be the first. We will concentrate on areas where there is demand and provide a one-stop range of coconut-water variants.”
Freeman says he doesn’t expect the business strategy to change too much over the next five years. “We will continue to innovate, bring out more products, more brands, in a healthier, better-for-you option. Be it coconut, watermelon or something else, we will expand a lot more, grow a lot more, and focus on export. “For us, working with other brands is also important. We have a great collaboration now with Kelloggs brand Be Natural, which is a coconut granola cereal. We’re setting a new trend of putting coconut water on your cereal – going dairy and lactose free, which is a better-for-you option for cereal.”
This article originally appeared in the latest print version of Inside FMCG as an exclusive – click here for more information.
Click here for more information on H2melon.