After Pivoting from Canned THC Line, Sprig Finds Warm Reception to CBD Line; In 10 States Now and on
BEVNET CANNABIS CONFERENCE: After Pivoting from Canned THC Line, Sprig Finds Warm Reception to CBD Line; In 10 States Now and on Rapid Expansion Path It’s still small, Sprig cofounder/ceo Michael Lewis readily allowed to audience at BevNet’s first Cannabis conference on Sat in Santa Monica, Calif, but it's also one of biggest CBD RTD bevs in country at segment’s nascent stage. Sprig started with THC line targeting Calif dispensaries, but followed demand by tilting more to canned CBD line that launched in July and already is out in 10 states and rapidly expanding as DSD distributors flock aboard. Orange County-based brand was founded in 2015 by Lewis, who came out of investment sector, and Ethan Feffer, a corporate atty with experience in medical device sector. At time there was not much out there in edibles sector beyond some legacy brands with rep for being unreliable in dosage. The few THC bevs tended to have packaging and liquids with room for improvement. Original line in 2015 was THC-infused soda containing 10 mg of THC sourced from Calif and exclusively sold in Calif dispensaries, in Citrus Original and Citrus Zero Sugar flavors. Sprig produces items itself. Team originally went out with 15 mg dosage, only to find medical marijuana users wanted higher dosages (“I have a 1,000 mg brownie that will get me high for two days, why are you here?” as Michael paraphrased sentiment) so Sprig tripled dosage to 45 mg and it sold well. It built account base to 400 dispensaries and added Zero Sugar entry in 2017. “Smile more” is brand mantra emblazoned on 12-oz cans. But requests mounted for a hemp-based CBD line, which brought advantage of being shippable beyond Calif and acceptable to mainstream retailers. So Sprig created 4-flavor line containing 20 mg of hemp-derived CBD sourced from Colo in Citrus Original (grapefruit flavor) sweetened with natural cane sugar, Citrus Zero Sugar sweetened with stevia/erythritol combo, Lemon Tea Zero Sugar and Melon Zero Sugar. Line launched in Jul in Bristol Farms chain and was a quick hit. After 2 weeks of demos, line was moving 10 cases per store per week at $3.99, providing early validation. “So we decided to run with it” and downplay THC side of biz, Lewis said. Co was approached by distributors from all over US, including indie Pepsi and Coke bottlers, Anheuser-Busch distributors. Within 5 months it was in 10 states including NY (via Gold Coast distributor), S Fla (via SAS), Illinois, Las Vegas, Vermont, Austin and Wash State (via indie Pepsi houses). It’s in over 1K c-stores, Lewis said. By now it’s lined up other CBD suppliers to support expansion. Branding aims for friendly, familiar, comfortable demeanor, pitching bev as ideal for pre-work, post-yoga and bedtime consumption occasions. In terminals at Chicago’s O’Hare airport it seems to have worked as tonic for calming pre-flight jitters. Co has carried “Smile more” mantra over to non-psychotropic CBD line, too. Lewis said there isn’t much direct competition so far “but a ton coming in.” He said his Vt distribution partner (Farrell) tells him it’s getting pitched CBD items on daily basis. He anticipates segment ultimately will be dominated by handful of sophisticated, well-capitalized players but is confident Sprig can hold its own.