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Zola Fruits of the World: An uncompromising Commitment to Quality and Community
Not all super fruits are created equal, and Zola Fruits of the World (Zola) is out to prove exactly why. The Zola team scours the globe in search of the highest quality, all natural and organic raw materials for its juice products, and the company implements strict quality control standards to ensure nutrients are locked in during the earliest stages for the benefit of the consumer. Due to this testament of dedication, the company has established a loyal following of consumers by insisting that every Zola product tastes as good as it truly is.
Zola was founded in 2001, with the company’s first cases of açaí juice shipped in 2002. “Our philosophy has always been to go straight to the source,” asserts Chris Cuvelier, founder and CEO of Zola. “Our business is about so much more than just a supplier transaction. We want to work directly with suppliers and processors that truly understand quality and it’s why we insist on meeting with every supplier and every processor, face-to-face.”
The cornerstone of Zola’s product line is the açaí berry, an Amazonian fruit renowned for its antioxidant properties and deep, berries and chocolate taste. Açaí packs four times the amount of antioxidants per serving as blueberries, and 60-percent more than pomegranates. Açaí itself is 90-seed and only 10-percent pulp, making the fruit impossible to eat raw. However, it is the fruit’s seed that imparts the açaí pulp with a dose of heart-healthy omega fatty acids, which are the same as found in whole foods like flax seeds and salmon.
Making Even Healthy, Tasty
The team at Zola strongly believes that processing is crucial to preserving the nutrient balance of the fruit’s raw materials. The entirety of berries the company is proud to put the Zola name on are grown organically, handpicked by local farmers across Brazil and immediately shipped to a local processor. The berries are then triple-washed using filtered water, pressed into pulp and flash frozen within 12 hours, which Zola calls the 12-hour-harvest-to-process guarantee.
Zola’s açaí juice happens to be the world’s first bottled açaí juice, and to note one of the fastest-growing brands of super-fruit beverages. New flavors of the juice were recently added, including açaí with pomegranate to expand the brand’s appeal. The extra effort to ensure swift processing following a harvest pays off, as the consistency of each Zola product is something between a smoothie and a pressed juice, all with enough pulp to ensure an abundance of healthy açaí pulp in every bottle.
The team recognizes that the health of a community is just as important as the health benefits of the company’s products. In order to do its part, Zola launched Project Zola to improve the communities that harvest the company’s super fruits. The Zola team partnered with the Brazilian town of Igarape-Miri – known as the açaí capital of the world – where discarded açaí seeds were turned into bracelets and sold through Zola. In turn, the company donated $1 of every bracelet sold to support Escola Acaimu, a local school providing over 140 children with a future. The remaining seeds were then donated to community’s local brick manufacturing company to dry bricks for use in building local homes, schools and community infrastructure.
“Zola started out as mostly açaí products, but we have focused on expanding with products that bridge the gap between exotic fruits from around the world and more mainstream tastes,” says Cuvelier.”
The company’s most recently launched product is coconut water made with coconuts grown in Thailand, a decision made only after Cuvelier traveled the world to find the best-tasting coconuts. The coconut water is canned immediately after harvesting to preserve the coconut water’s great taste and naturally hydrating balance of essential electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorous and magnesium. Zola’s newest product, a large multiserve, utilizes only 100-percent coconut water and natural flavoring, with no added sugars, GMO ingredients or gluten whatsoever.
“We launched a one-liter Tetrapak of our coconut water across the West Coast in June 2012,” says Cuvelier. “Both of our coconut water products are already among the top-selling coconut waters in the market, and we’re really excited about it.”
Zola has additional products in the development pipeline; and the future looks bright for the team as well as the Zola brand, as the company has managed to sustain an annual growth rate above 35 percent every year since its founding, according to Cuvelier.
But the company isn’t about to start expanding in every direction just to maintain pace, and Cuvelier foresees explosive growth while ensuring the quality and consistency of Zola products. “We have a growth strategy and we’re sticking to it, but our bigger concern is to grow in the right way,” he says. “We’re cognizant of our key metrics, but we believe that if we execute our strategy and stick to our guiding principles, those numbers will follow.” The company’s strategy is working, as Zola sales were up 60 percent in 2011 and the company expects growth between 70 and 80 percent in 2012.
Zola is focusing its efforts on strengthening the company’s ties to the Thai communities the same way it fashioned deep-rooted partnerships in Brazil. In the process Zola Fruits of the World will continue to produce products of superior quality, unbelievable taste and the kind of nutrition that inspires hesitant newbies to explore healthier foods and activities.