Huntington-based Roar Beverages, maker of a coconut water-infused sports drink, has gone through a growth spurt in the past year, boosting its annual revenue from $500,000 in 2015 to a projected $3.5 million in 2016.
The company, founded in 2012 by Roly Nesi, of Cold Spring Harbor, has broadened its distribution and launched a new product line, Roar Organic.
Roar still faces a series of challenges in the highly competitive $6 billion sports drink market, which is dominated by industry giants PepsiCo., owner of Gatorade, and Coca-Cola, owner of Powerade.
“Being a small company in a very competitive category ... there’s the constant struggle of David and Goliath to get shelf space,” said Nesi, 32, Roar’s CEO. “But at the same time, we’re focused on managing our growth. We projected the sale of 100,000 cases this year and instead sold 400,000.”
For small companies like Roar, “distribution is very important,” said Gary Hemphill, managing director of research at Beverage Marketing Corp., a Manhattan consultant to the beverage industry. The “odds are stacked against newcomers.”
Jeff Klineman, editor-in-chief at BevNet.com, a Boston company that covers the beverage market, said there has been a surge of smaller, more focused brands moving into the sports drink category in the past year.
“Small cracks have started to appear in the plastic shield of companies like Gatorade and Powerade,” he said. He cited the growth of BodyArmor, a Queens-based company whose drinks, like Roar’s, are coconut water-based. Founder Mike Repole told FoxBusiness.com that BodyArmor sales for 2016 are projected to reach $125 million to $150 million.
Nesi said he is not fazed by going up against the big guys.
Roar, which operates a distribution center in Westbury, is now sold in 13 states and six countries including Ireland, where Roar sold more than 37,000 cases its first month.
“But the brand would have never made it out of Long Island if it wasn’t successful here first,” he said.
Roar is distributed in 350 locations in Nassau and Suffolk counties — including all King Kullen stores. The drinks are manufactured at several bottling plants in New Jersey.
Roar Lite, a drink with 60 calories in a 12-ounce bottle that has been approved by the USDA to be sold in schools, is found in about 1,000 schools in Arizona, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. It is in about 50 schools on Long Island, including high schools in the Longwood, Cold Spring Harbor and Sachem districts, Nesi said.
In 2015, Roar partnered with New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who endorsed its products, invested an undisclosed sum in the company and now has his own product line: Roar OBJXIII.
Most recently, Roar made a deal to become the official sports drink of the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League.
Roar Organic, which was introduced in the past two weeks, has 10 calories in 8 ounces, compared with 50 in Roar’s regular drinks, Nesi said. It’s “geared toward a more health-conscious consumer, someone looking for a drink to match their lululemon pants and the crazy Nikes they wear to SoulCycle.”
At a glance:
Company: Roar Beverages
CEO: Roly Nesi
Projected 2016 revenue: $3.5 million
Employees: 18 full-time, 6 part-time