By Ryan Latif
Major developments out of the Big Apple with news that Big Geyser has secured the exclusive rights to distribute Monster Energy and Sparkling ICE in all five boroughs of New York City, as well as Nassau, Suffolk County, Long Island and Westchester County.
Big Geyser’s deal with Monster will cover all channels of trade, excluding club stores, and begin on April 1. In an unrelated deal, Big Geyser has acquired the distribution rights for Talking Rain’s Sparkling ICE brand from Suffolk County-based Drink King.
“These deals allow us to leverage our extremely strong relationships with retailers, our 26 years of experience and intimate knowledge of the New York market,” Big Geyser COO Jerry Reda told BevNET. “Our priority number one is to grow market share for Monster and Sparkling ICE and to grow market share for our existing core beverage brands.”
With a portfolio that includes a wide variety of beverages ranging from mega brands like Vitaminwater and Muscle Milk to entrepreneurial stars and start-ups including ZICO, Purity Organic, HINT, and Body Armor, Big Geyser is one of the largest independent DSD distributors of non-alcoholic beverages in the country, and the biggest in New York City. However, its deal with Monster marks its first significant foray into energy drinks. Despite being pitched by “hundreds” of energy drink brands every year, the company last carried BAWLS Guarana nearly three years ago, according to Big Geyser COO Jerry Reda.
Reda said he believes that there is “tremendous opportunity to expand distribution of energy drinks” in the New York metro area, and stated that Big Geyser has identified major voids in the market.
“There are many accounts that don’t sell Monster… or don’t [commit] enough shelf space for the brand,” Reda said.
He hailed the deal with Monster as a “perfect marriage,” one that took “a reasonable amount of time” to complete considering its size. Reda said the Big Geyser was particularly impressed with the breadth of Monster’s products, and pointed to Monster Rehab, Monster Zero Ultra, and Uber Monster as “game-changers.”
“We’re impressed with [Monster’s] management team, their creativity and ingenuity,” Reda said.
The arrangement will take distribution of Monster Energy out of the hands of Anheuser-Busch distributors, which had been managing the brand throughout the New York metro market, with the exception of Brooklyn, where distribution of Monster has been serviced by The Coca-Cola Co.
Considering that both Anheuser-Busch and Coke are the primary distribution partners of Monster Energy drinks in North America, the company’s decision to make a change in New York City – the largest market in the U.S. – is a curious one, to say the least. However, Monster has long been the number two energy drink brand behind Red Bull in New York, and remained so throughout 2012, despite some gains in the market.
Big Geyser’s deal with Sparkling ICE will bring the brand – which has grown to $150 million in sales nationally – from Drink King, a DSD house that carries a range of entrepreneurial brands including Cabana lemonades and Marley’s Mellow Mood. The agreement will be effective on Feb. 25 and will encompass Sparkling ICE’s DSD and direct retail accounts.
Reda stressed that Big Geyser has long focused on avoiding duplication of beverage categories in its portfolio. And while Big Geyser does carry a number of sparkling water drinks, including San Pellegrino and HINT Fizz, he noted that existing sparkling drink brands represent less than two percent of its total portfolio.
“Sparkling ICE brings us into a new section of retail where we don’t currently have a strong presence,” Reda said.
Reda acknowledged that while Monster Energy and Sparkling ICE will be two of Big Geyser’s largest brands, the distributor has a compensation structure in place that “doesn’t allow” its sales team – one that numbers several hundred people, he said – to grow one brand at the expense of another.
“Monster and Sparkling ICE will be incremental to our existing business,” Reda said.