Since launching in September 2021, SUNiCE, a single-serve alcoholic beverage company, has seen a meteoric rise in the ready-to-drink (RTD) market thanks to its unique flexible packaging and nostalgic feel. Flexible Packaging was able to secure an exclusive interview with SUNiCE co-founder Erik Weller to learn more about the company and the industry as a whole.
What is the story behind SUNiCE and SUNSHOT?
SUNiCE and SUNSHOT, the brainchild of partners Wyatt Carder and myself, have been shaking up the ready-to-drink (RTD) market since their launch in September 2021. The two brands specialize in high-proof, single-serve shots and cocktails in a unique and nostalgic format: flexible pouches reminiscent of the beloved drink, Capri Sun.
The story behind SUNiCE and SUNSHOT began in 2012, when we started a canned sparkling wine cocktail brand, Pampelonne. Over the next 8 years, we built the brand and became experts in the RTD space. However, in April 2020, amidst the peak of the coronavirus pandemic when bars were selling cocktails to-go, we noticed a trend of consumers posting photos of themselves drinking pouch cocktails from restaurants on social media. We realized that there was a demand for this format, but a lack of major players in the market.
With the cultural trend and proof of concept in the marketplace, we set out to fill the void and meet the demand from millennial and Gen-Z consumers. We quickly developed supply chain partners and formulas, and by September 2021, we had sold their first case of SUNiCE. Since then, the brand has seen immense success, with over 25,000 cases sold and ever-increasing demand from wholesalers and retailers.
How is the current market for RTD, single-serve shots?
The current market for RTD, single-serve shots is booming, and SUNSHOT has been a hit in the high-proof category. The 3oz, 14% ABV pouch shooter has resonated with consumers looking for unique and alternative packaging options in a beer-compliant format.
Why did you opt to bring SUNiCE and SUNSHOT to market in flexible pouch packaging?
We chose to bring SUNiCE and SUNSHOT to market in flexible pouch packaging for both practical and cultural reasons. The pouches are easy to transport and store, have a smaller carbon footprint, and can go places where glass cannot. Importantly, the format also evokes nostalgia and creates a unique and cool experience for the consumer.
What is next for the brand?
The future for SUNiCE and SUNSHOT looks bright, with new flavors on the horizon and plans for market and retail expansion. The brand has already launched in Michigan, Southern California, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia, with plans to expand to 1/3 of the country by the end of 2023 and to be fully national by mid-2024.