Science & Nutrition

‘Brands that rubbish other brands...I don’t get it!’: Vita Coco UK CEO Giles Brook

28-May-2014 - By Ben Bouckley+
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Vita Coco’s UK CEO Giles Brook tells BeverageDaily.com he doesn’t understand ‘brands that rubbish other brands’ following an attack by coconut water rival INVO on his product’s nutritional and health benefits.

In strong comments to this website, new coconut water kid on the block INVO questioned the nutritional properties of Vita Coco and other peers, dismissing the “misleading nature of these repetitive brands”.

But Brook hit back today, insisting that Vita Coco always operates “with total integrity and transparency, and that’s always at the heart of what we do”.

“I have a view on brands that spend the majority of their time rubbishing other products – it suggests you don’t have enough to talk about on the merits of your own product,” he said.

I don’t understand why brands rubbish other brands, especially ones that have been successful and have established a category and are the brand of choice for consumers,” Brook added.

Nutritional qualities almost identical – Vita Coco

While he said such comments as INVO's were “disappointing”, Brook insisted he was more interested in talking about Vita Coco, coconut water and “why we think what we’re doing is right for the consumer”.

INVO asserted that Vita Coco was inferior since it used heat pasteurisation rather than HPP, and claimed its own nutritional profile and taste is better as a consequence, but Brook challenged these assertions.

Yes, Vita Coco uses light heat pasteurization, but it does so to ensure deactivation of bacteria and enzymes with minimal impact on nutritionals.

Brook said that ‘not from concentrate and ‘100% natural’ were critical aspects of the product, and underpinned its No.1 market positions in the US and UK.

“The bit I find funny or ironic about this is that, if you look at the two nutritional panels for the products side- by-side, as you do in your original article, theirs is per 355ml of product and ours is per 100ml,” Brook said.

“INVO are talking about all their benefits, but the crazy thing is that actually, if you look at the nutritionals, they’re virtually identical across the two,” he added.

“Look at the potassium levels – virtually identical. Also, we always make sure that the nutritionals we declare on labels are as factual as they can be,” Brook said.

As coconut water category leader – with a 60% market share in the States and 90% in the UK – Brook said Vita Coco tested batches rigorously to ensure nutritional consistency and continued consumer trust in the brand and category.

‘As category leader we want to work with other brands’

“So I must admit I don’t quite understand where the comments are coming from about the relative nutritional differences. Look on both labels, they’re pretty much comparative,” Brook said.

"As category leader we actually want to work with other brands to build the category to its potential. We get excited about other premium, high quality coconut waters coming into the category, ones willing to drive and invest in consumer understanding of coconut water and its benefits,” he added.

Given that coconut water is now the fastest-growing category in non-alcoholic beverages, Brook said it could follow smoothies and sports and energy to become the “next power category” for the next 5-10 years.

“I don’t want our share in the UK to stay at 90%. I want other brands to come in and help build the category to £100m ($167m) by the end of this year in the UK, and £250m in three years, with us as market leader. But we need help from other brands to build the category,” he said.

Related topics: Natural and clean label, Marketing, Market Trends, Science & Nutrition, Cultures, enzymes, yeast