Wandering Bear Kicks Off Cold Brew Season With Shelf-Stable Keg

Posted On: 4/8/2019

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NEW YORK CITY -- Wandering Bear has launched a shelf-stable cold brew keg intended for offices, micromarket, vending and convenience operations nationwide. It will make its industry debut at the National Automatic Merchandising Association's NAMA Show, taking place April 24-26 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, in Booth #229.
Each 5-gallon unit delivers the brand's signature organic and Fair Trade cold brew in a bag-in-box format without the need for refrigeration or nitrogen gas to dispense, reducing cost and complexity without sacrificing quality or experience., according to the company.
  Wandering Bear cofounders Ben Gordon (l.) and Matt Bachmann
With a 180-day ambient shelf life, the new format makes for fewer deliveries and easy storage at customer locations. A simple electric pump dispense the cold brew coffee, resulting in fewer service calls and service interruptions, and reduced need for equipment. Additionally, customers can easily swap and dispose of old kegs themselves -- eliminating "cold brew blackouts," the company pointed out.
The new shelf-stable format is offered in three flavors: black, hazelnut and vanilla.  Wandering Bear cold brew is also available in 11-fl.oz. ready-to-drink cartons.

Officials said the shelf-stable bag-in-box cold brew was the product of a year of R&D and collaboration with the company's OCS and foodservice customers to understand their needs and "pain points" when offering cold brew on tap. As cold brew kegs have surged in popularity, Wandering Bear said it uncovered significant challenges that operators face when delivering the premium offering to accounts. Specifically, limited refrigerated storage space, temperamental gas tanks and frequent service calls drive cost and complexity when offering cold brew on tap.
New York City-based Wandering Bear is no stranger to the office coffee scene. The brand launched in 2014, offering cold brew subscriptions to offices around the Big Apple, often hand-delivered by the founders themselves. That service is still part of the company's business and is now live in 30 states, according to Wandering Bear cofounder Ben Gordon. Even as Wandering Bear has expanded nationally with retailers like Kroger, Whole Foods, Safeway and Target, the company's sales of traditional 5-gallon nitrogen kegs has kept pace, with sales growing more than 200% in 2018.
"We started Wandering Bear by selling our cold brew boxes to offices," recalled Wandering Bear cofounder Matt Bachmann. "So not only do we have a unique understanding of the channel's pain points, we have also had the opportunity to build strong partnerships with leading OCS and foodservice providers allowing for this level of collaboration to culminate in a product offering we know will help operators be more successful."
Bachmann noted that Wandering Bear will be taking this new offering to market with a handful of existing OCS partners including Corporate Essentials (Parsippany, NJ), Coffee Distributing Corp. (New Hyde Park, NY), U.S. Coffee (Hicksville, NY) and Metropolitan Coffee House (Mt. Vernon, NY).
Through its partnerships with OCS and vending companies, Wandering Bear estimates this offering can save operators 25% to 30% on the operating costs of their existing keg programs.