Righteous Gelato makes kombucha line for Sobeys

The exclusive deal builds the grocery banner's frozen treat offerings with a health food-inspired lineup.


A desire for “functional,” more health-conscious beverages have led some to predict things like kombucha will take share away from traditional colas. That has subsequently spilled over into other categories, like frozen dessert.

To wit, Righteous Gelato has combined them in a category first, with a newly launched line of kombucha sorbetto through an exclusive partnership with Sobeys that gives nationwide access to wellness-conscious consumers looking for additional health benefits in desserts.

In July, Sobeys announced a three-year growth strategy called “Project Horizon.” A major part of the plan will be a renewed investment in private label, working closely with supplier partners and plans to “further grow sales of its private label brands through increased distribution, shelf placement and product innovation.”

Righteous Gelato’s CEO James Boettcher says the grocery banner approached his company to do a frozen kombucha line up, which will include four new SKUs: Blueberry Yuzu, Cherry Hibiscus, Guava Coconut and Peach Ginger. Each is non-dairy, nut and soy free, as well as certified gluten-free and vegan friendly, and in a small 560 ML format and a look more akin to ghee or face cream than frozen desserts.

“To be honest, this started as a bit of a spitball idea in a meeting, but we took it back to our team to work on the innovation,” says Righteous Gelato’s director of sales Mike McGregor. “There was strategy that worked for both sides, in terms of being first to market on innovation, and for us, further building our distribution and product portfolio.”

Righteous has been rolled in with Sobeys’ promotional programs targeting key frozen dessert times in store. The flavours are also being promoted through Righteous’ social media platforms, through online ads, influencer marketing and is featured through its e-commerce website.

When it comes to differentiation, McGregor says the brand never uses artificial flavours or colours, and its gelato and sorbetto is only sweetened with pure cane sugar. The austere simple packaging design reflects the ethos of having “nothing to hide,” and the flavour call out is larger than its brand name on pack. The four new flavours sit with the rest of its gelato and sorbetto/sherbet pints in the conventional ice cream aisle, near the more premium offerings (it currently sells at $12 a batch on the Righteous Gelato website).

Sobeys’ parent Empire, recently announced gross Q4 profit increases of 15.3%, with margins for the quarter increasing to 25.9% from 25.4 % last year, an increase that it says is partly due to higher private label penetration.