Forget Lemonade, Beyoncé Is Investing in Watermelon
Beyoncé commanded the world’s attention with the release of her latest album “Lemonade.” But the iconic singer is giving some love to another fruit: the watermelon.
The superstar has invested in fast-growing, cold-pressed watermelon water startup called WTRMLN WTR. Her involvement with the brand is the latest business move by the savvy star, which generated headlines late last month when she unveiled a line of casual athletic wear called Ivy Park.
“I invested in WTRMLN WTR because it’s the future of clean, natural hydration; as partners, we share a simple mission to deliver accessible wellness to the world,” Beyonce said in a prepared statement. “This is more than an investment in a brand, it’s an investment in female leaders, fitness, American farmers, and the health of people and our planet.”
New York-based WTRMLN WTR is only three years old but is growing quickly. The startup says annual revenue is currently on pace to triple this year from 2015’s level. It is stocked in over 7,500 retail locations, including Whole Foods (WFM), Kroger (KR) and Costco (COST). More broadly, bottled waters – including flavored variations – have sold well as consumers ditch sodas for beverage options they believe are healthier.
WTRMLN WTR co-Founder and Creative Director Jody Levy said Beyoncé had joined the company’s investor pool in a recent capital raise, but wouldn’t disclose to Fortune how big her stake is.
Fans of Beyoncé may recall that she has sung a notable lyric involving her love of watermelon in the 2013 hit “Drunk In Love,” which the star sang with her husband rapper Jay Z. That line is “I’ve been drinking, watermelon.”
Levy recalls that there are some synergies between the release of “Drunk In Love” and WTRMLN WTR’s early entry into the retail landscape. She says Beyoncé’s song with the famous watermelon line was released the day her startup signed a deal to stock the watermelon water line in Whole Foods in late 2013.
“It was an awesome coincidence,” Levy says, adding she sent some product to Beyoncé after hearing the song. “About a year ago, we had a conversation about her interest in investing in companies that are mission-driven and connected to people.” Part of that allure was Levy’s partnership with farmers – WTRMLN WTR sources 800 million pounds of unused imperfect watermelons for the company’s waters – as well as the fact that the singer’s investment would be with a company founded by a woman.
Beyoncé’s watermelon water investment is part of two trends. On one hand, there’s been a long tradition of celebrities investing in beverages, with many of those stakes occurring in alcoholic drinks. One of the more notable deals in non-alcoholic drinks would be rapper 50 Cent’s lucrative investment in Vitamin Water.
Another way of looking at the deal is that Beyoncé, especially this year, is building her personal brand around product launches meant to inspire health and wellness. That would connect her interest in developing an athleisure line, fashionable clothes that are meant to be used for working out too. The watermelon water, meanwhile, touts the fact that it uses no added sugar or artificial ingredients, is low calorie, and claims to be an excellent source of Vitamins A and C.
“I’m a fan of her mission to empower people to be the best humans they can be,” Levy says of the new partnership. “I’ve been aligned with her lyrics, philosophy, and everything about Beyoncé’s brand and world.”