SOURCE: Zola Açaí

September 27, 2006 06:00 ET

Zola Açaí Gets a Healthy Boost From Emigrant Capital

Maker of Antioxidant Power Juice Lands Equity Investment From Beverage-Savvy Investment Firm

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- September 27, 2006 -- Zola Açaí, maker of Açaí Power Juice, today announced that it has received a significant equity investment from Emigrant Capital Corporation, a private equity investment firm and division of Emigrant Bank, the largest privately held bank in the country. Val Stalowir, an Emigrant Capital Executive Partner and former Coca-Cola executive, will join Zola Açaí's Board of Directors.

Chris Cuvelier, Zola Açaí's founder and president, started the company in 2001, when he was a juice and smoothie bar consultant looking to create a one-of-a-kind beverage for the retail market. On a trip to Brazil, he fell in love with the super-antioxidant Açaí berry (pronounced ah-sci-ee), which is grown in the Amazon Rainforest. Cuvelier explains: "My experience in Brazil inspired me to create Zola Açaí, a healthy, energizing, and fantastic tasting power juice that I knew people back home would love. Every day, consumers call and email us to tell us that Zola has become part of their daily routine and to rave about Zola's great taste. That truly validates our decision to use only 100% unfiltered Açaí pulp as the drink's base."

Cuvelier continues, "We are also excited that Açaí is making a major splash in the media. When The New York Times, The Wall St. Journal and Oprah.com all pick up on Açaí's superior antioxidant benefits, and rapidly growing beverage chains such as Robeks and Jamba Juice feature it in smoothies, you know that it has become part of the consumer mainstream. When coupled with these trends, this investment from Emigrant means that we now have the opportunity to take Zola to a whole new level of consumer acceptance."

Commenting on Emigrant's decision to invest in the company, Stalowir said, "Açaí is a super fruit, demand for the juice is beginning to take off, consumer awareness is increasing, and Zola is clearly the best-in-class Açaí product. Zola's unique brand proposition satisfies consumers' needs on several fronts. First, Zola appeals to consumers' interest in health because the Açaí berry has more antioxidants than any other edible fruit on the planet, including 60% more antioxidants than pomegranates and 500% more than blueberries. Second, Zola is nature's energy drink -- its powerful combination of carbs, protein, and Guaraná caffeine is perfect for people on-the-go who need hours of sustained energy without a crash. Third, Zola tastes great because it is 100% unfiltered and authentic. Fourth, Zola's packaging enables the product to be shelf stable, giving retailers the flexibility to sell Zola in produce coolers, on the shelf or in 12-pack cases for bulk take-home purchases. Given these competitive advantages, the company's momentum and its rapidly expanding customer base, we at Emigrant saw this as a strategic investment of the highest priority."

Food-industry veteran and Zola Açaí Chairman Patrick Muldoon noted that Emigrant's strengths and experience made them a clear choice when Zola was selecting its first institutional investor: "The food industry is extremely competitive, and in fast growing markets like health and energy, you simply cannot fall off the pace when it comes to capital and resources. Emigrant's extensive food and beverage industry expertise and its proven success in driving rapid growth for emerging beverage brands, coupled with their industry relationships, makes them an ideal partner for Zola. Their strengths will enable us to accelerate our growth, build our brand and introduce Zola to a much broader audience."

About Zola Açaí

Zola Açaí combines a proprietary processing technology with authentic Brazilian recipes to produce an all-natural, shelf-stable product that tastes great. As the world's first Açaí Power Juice, Zola is made from 100% unfiltered pulp of antioxidant-rich Açaí berries and is infused with energy-sustaining Guaraná powder, giving consumers health and power in Amazon-sized quantities. Açaí was recently named one of the most nutritious and powerful foods in the world by Dr. Nicolas Perricone on Oprah.com. In fact, Zola contains not just plentiful antioxidants, but also Omega-6 and Omega-9 fatty acids, 8 of the 9 essential amino acids, calcium, iron and replenishing electrolytes. Zola also strongly appeals to retailers. It is 12-month shelf-stable and ready-to-drink. It is already sold in over 2,400 stores nationwide (including Whole Foods, Wild Oats, Shaws and Wegmans), and rollouts are underway into multiple Kroger and Costco divisions. For more information, please visit www.DrinkZola.com.

About Emigrant Capital

Emigrant Capital is a private investment firm that offers middle market companies the capital and resources they need to realize their full potential. Through its experience as a successful deal sponsor and the talents of its Executive Partners, Emigrant provides not only the optimal capital structure, but also a wealth of resources to help ensure success. For more information, please visit www.emigrantcapital.com.

Contact Information