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Prebiotic soda brand Poppi keeps growing

A can of Poppi grape-flavored soda surrounded by grapes.

Photo: Courtesy of Poppi

Poppi, an Austin-based maker of gut-friendly soda, will reach sales of more than $100 million and is aiming to take share from big soda with the launch of its grape flavor, co-founder Allison Ellsworth tells Axios.

Why it matters: By offering traditional flavors and packaging, Poppi aims to convince consumers to drink its beverages instead of soda.

Details: The grape version will also be sold in retailers such as Kroger and Target, she says.

  • Poppi already offers familiar flavors such as cola, root beer and orange.

What's next: Walmart is currently conducting a test with Poppi in 500 of its stores while Costco is testing it in the Midwest and Southern California.

  • The wholesale club plans to introduce the functional beverage to other regions based on strong sales results, Ellsworth says.
  • Poppi is also working on a holiday flavor it has yet to reveal.

By the numbers: Poppi will exceed well over $100 million in sales after three years of having its products on store shelves, Ellsworth says.

  • The company expects to have triple-digit growth this year alone, she says.
  • It will grow the number of stores it is sold in from between 22,000 and 25,000 currently to 30,000 by the end of the year, Ellsworth says.

Catch up fast: Poppi raised a $25 million Series B in December, with Cavu Consumer Partners providing most of the company's financing to date. Ellsworth says Poppi is three years away or less from an IPO or sale.

  • The brand built out its direct store delivery (DSD) distribution network to help it develop stronger relationships with retailers and obtain better displays.
  • Inking a distribution deal with a strategic, coupled with an investment — which could then lead to an acquisition is an attractive potential option, she says.
  • "We would love to work something out" with a strategic in the near future, Ellsworth says, noting that although Poppi has held discussions, there's nothing immediately planned.

Yes, but: She cautions that Poppi is still small for the large strategic players.

  • Niche players like Jones Soda could provide partnership opportunities, and Poppi's DSD capabilities keep the company's liquidity options open, she says.

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to note that Poppi is based in Austin, not Dallas.

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