Peace Corps volunteer Mark Rampolla had been living in Latin America for years before creating Zico Pure Premium Coconut Water. Working in the beverage industry as a supplier for a US multinational, he was not new to coconut water. It was used as a natural sports drink in Latin America, so Rampolla wondered why the idea had not reached the U.S. Aware of the numerous artificial sports drinks and enhanced waters in the U.S. beverage market, Rampolla thus decided to introduce a replenishing, all-natural product. It would be an opportunity to not only provide a nutritional beverage to Americans, but also assist the economies of nations that produced coconuts. The company's suppliers worked in Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, gathering coconuts from hundreds of local farmers and directly communicating with coconut plantations. By 2004, Rampolla had left his career to develop Zico Coconut Water in the states. He began by selling it out of a van to yoga studios in New York. Word quickly caught on about Zico's smooth taste and hydrating benefits, soon attracting athletes, personal trainers, and triathlon events.
In 2009, the Coca-Cola company purchased a minority stake in Zico Brands LLC, eventually holding an outstanding stake by 2013. Under the assistance of a large corporation, Zico doubled its sales to become an 87 million dollar business. The appeal of Zico Coconut Water comes from its many benefits and options. Each Zico Coconut Water drink contains five electrolytes: magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium, and phosphorus. Its beverage line includes the Natural flavor, an Organic version, Watermelon Raspberry, Chocolate, Pineapple, Chilled Mango Pineapple Juice, Chilled Strawberry Banana Juice, and Chilled Orange Juice. These are offered in plastic bottles or tetrapaks, however, the bottled products contain fewer calories. In addition, they hold a higher sodium content, which plays an important role in rehydration during long exercises. Those who seek easy storage and transporting however, prefer the tetrapaks.
As of 2014, Zico Coconut Water is the second largest coconut water brand in the U.S. after Vita Coco. Zico products have found their way in numerous magazines including The Daily Meal, Women's Health, and Food Network Magazine. In 2016, the company introduced a larger bottle with an extra 2.9 ounces of coconut water for the same retail price as the original 14 oz. The product uses the same sturdy packaging, packaged at the source in Thailand for optimum taste. We at Specialty Sodas have yet to get our hands on the new larger bottle. However, if you would like to buy Zico Coconut Water in 14 oz bottles or tetrapaks, you can do so at our website.
Watch the Interview
If you would like to learn more about the story of how Mark Rampolla started the ZICO company and what lessons he learned as he grew it to become the leading brand in the coconut water category, watch the interview The Unwritten Rules of Entrepreneurship.