General Division Winner

Drazil Foods
General Division Winner

Christine Wheeler wondered: If antioxidant-rich tea is known to be healthy for adults, why aren’t there any herbal tea-based drinks for children? Confident that kids love juice, Wheeler blended the two together to develop the first tea-based 100 percent juice for children.

Launching Drazil Foods has been a labor of love for Wheeler, who spent nearly four years creating the drink, testing it, devising packaging, and building a team of juice industry veterans. The Edina-based company now is primed to bring its caffeine-free juice and tea drink to market, as soon as it lands the necessary financing.

Once Drazil Juice lands on store shelves, Wheeler believes it will compete nicely against other 100 percent juice products like Nestle’s Juicy Juice and find a welcome spot in the $7 billion shelf-stable juice market. “We’ve developed a healthier juice for kids. It’s the first 100 percent juice made with herbal tea,” says Wheeler. “Kids today need more antioxidants, and our juice is really good for children because it’s rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.”

Wheeler’s recipe blends 100 percent juice with caffeine-free herbal tea—rooibos tea paired with rosehips and hibiscus to add some natural sweetness. The tea replaces water typically used to make juice from reconstituted fruit concentrates. Drazil Juice comes in the three most popular juice flavors of apple, fruit punch, and red berry in boxes and multi-use bottles. It will hit the same price points as other 100 percent juices.

A veteran product developer with stints at Proctor & Gamble and Church & Dwight (makers of Arm & Hammer and Aim toothpaste), Wheeler took advantage of her experience in marketing, packaging, and research to flesh out Drazil. She teamed with Mike Quezada, a veteran of Nestlé, who handles all of Drazil’s operations, logistics, and relationships with the company’s regional manufacturers, called co-packers.

Wheeler aimed to create a company name with a visual image, hiring a British design agency to create the company’s chameleon mascot. (Drazil is lizard spelled backward.) She also led Drazil through an extensive market research process, including focus groups, concept testing, packaging research, and youth testing with online pre-teens. “With my Procter & Gamble background, I’ve got to prove to myself that this product is going to be the best,” she says.

Once Drazil starts manufacturing its juice and tea drink in bulk, Wheeler says it will find a warm reception on grocery store shelves. In pursuit of something different for that category, several major retailers, including Cub Foods, have expressed interest in Drazil Juice, Wheeler says. She expects to add revenue quickly, hitting $44 million by year five.

In the future, Drazil will branch into other products. Wheeler would like to develop Drazil-branded snacks for children that are rich in antioxidants, as well as a completely different brand of caffeine-free herbal-tea drinks for adults.

“My dream is to have kids start good eating habits at a young age and become familiar with tea and how good it is for you,” says Wheeler, herself the mother of three children, including two tea lovers. “We have a healthier juice that is helping children get more antioxidants in their diets.”