Pricklee cactus water targets ‘the silent majority of coconut water haters’

Pricklee was founded by five healthcare workers that just couldn’t bring themselves to enjoy the taste of coconut water (harshly equating the flavor to “lukewarm backwash”​ on the company website​).

Despite the category’s meteoric success, beginning in 2004-2005 when the first major coconut water brand, Vita Coco, hit the US market, Pricklee’s founders maintain that many consumers don’t actually enjoy the taste, frankly stating on the website that they consider themselves a part of “the silent majority of coconut water haters.

“Whenever we went to the beverage aisle ​[at a Whole Foods or Wegmans] we noticed everything at that time was a coconut water or was made from coconut water. Just being people that weren’t fans of coconut water, we felt like there wasn’t another plant-based option that gave us the benefits of coconut water that was also an everyday drink we could consume,” ​Kun Yang, Pricklee CEO told FoodNavigator-USA.

Their solution was to develop an alternative plant water that could deliver on taste and function using the fruit of a cactus (i.e. the prickly pear), the original idea of which came from one of Pricklee’s other co-founders, who spent his childhood in Lebanon where his grandmother would often give him the juice from prickly pears, which grow in the country’s arid climate. 

“As kids,we loved it because it tasted like a cross between watermelon and bubblegum,”​ said Yang, who said as healthcare workers, the team was excited to learn about the fruit’s host of purported health benefits (from vitamin C, flavonoids, betalains, and polyphenols) such as supporting skin healthy, immunity, and recovery. Pricklee products also contain half the sugar and calories of an equivalent serving of the leading coconut water brand.

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