It isn’t easy to switch allegiances, but after years of proudly selling Zico brand coconut water at our studios, we have had to move on. In its place, you will now find Vita Coco.
We did not leave Zico as much as it left us. Coca-Cola “invested” in the brand, a move that initiated three drastic changes. It is now made from concentrate instead of pure coconut water. The flavors were changed and made significantly stronger. And it is now sold in a plastic container, instead of paper. It is recyclable and the company said it is not “pure” plastic, but it adds more plastic to the world nonetheless.
In all, it has changed the nature of what used to be the perfect post-Bikram drink. Sure, the new Zico is still a source of electrolytes and beats drinking some sugar-spiked sports drink, but it is no longer the Zico we knew and loved. And so we move on.
The irony in this is that Zico built its brand based on the enthusiasm of the New York City yoga market — its founder, Mark Rampolla, is from New Jersey. If you want to know the backstory on the coconut water industry, read this Beverage World article from last December.
Certainly some will find the changes a sign of progress, a plus that such a healthy drink is now being mass-marketed by a major manufacturer. But there are hidden costs in such things. The simplicity of the old flavors has been lost, along with the crisp taste of using fresh coconut water. What’s good for a Coke-like mass production process is not necessarily what’s good for us.
They may call it progress, but we can choose to march another way.