Bottled at the source of an underground well in the village of Saint Jana, Croatia, near the Adriatic Sea, the water in Jana Natural European Artesian Water may be 3,000 to 7,000 years old, but it has been distributed in the United States for only four years.
Mo Stojnovic of Jana North America was asked by Ivan Todoric, his life-long friend and son of the owner of Agrokor Group, to bring Jana to the United States. With more than 180 years in business, the Agrokor Group, through its wholly owned subsidiary Jamnica, is the largest manufacturer and distributor of bottled water in all of Southeast Europe.
Croatia has the largest supply of drinking water in all of Europe, and the Agrokor Group produces more than 300 million liters of Jana water a year, the company says. Jana’s well, at a depth of 2,500 feet, is one of the deepest in Europe. The Croatian government found the source of Jana water when it was looking for oil, Stojnovic says, and brought in companies to test the water’s purity. Jamnica was one of the companies to invest in testing and building infrastructure to source the water directly from the underground reservoir for bottling.
Jana’s water quality is a result of a slow and natural filtering process, through a vast aquifer of layered mineral rock. Additionally, the water is protected by a layer of granite above the well basin. The company’s state-of-the-art aseptic bottling technology enables it to pump Jana from a depth of 2,500 feet directly into bottles, without any contact with the outside world, Stojnovic says. Jana is not altered or processed in any way.
“There is no water in this market today that has this story,” Stojnovic says.
In addition to deriving from a unique source, Jana is fortified naturally with calcium and magnesium. Jana contains 63 mg. of calcium in every liter. The water also contains silica, a mineral important for healthy skin, hair and nails, the company says.
Jana also uniquely has a pH of 7.4, which is the pH of the human body, Stojnovic says.
“When you hydrate, the water goes quickly through your system,” he says. “It’s the only water with our body pH in the world.”
Jana’s stable mineral composition is monitored regularly throughout the year, which guarantees the water’s smooth taste, freshness and silky texture, the company says. Jana’s quality is confirmed by a number of international institutions, including NSF International. Daily quality checks also are performed to ensure that the water in the bottle is exactly as intended.
Growing in the U.S. market
Before Stojnovic introduced Jana to the U.S. market, he didn’t have any beverage experience, but “he was crazy enough to take the challenge of starting a beverage business,” he says.
Jana started to grow slowly in the New York market where it was first introduced through word of mouth, special events and sampling. Stojnovic also had a relationship with Manhattan Beer Distributors, and the water was picked up by the largest beer distributor in New York. The company then signed deals with Whole Foods Market, Kroger, Food Lion and Winn-Dixie.
Jana now is distributed nationwide with its strongest channels being supermarket and grocery store chains. The product’s strongest territory is still New York, but Jana also has a strong presence in Los Angeles and Florida.
The bottled water also is available in a variety of sizes for its different markets and channels. In plastic, Jana is available in 500-ml., 1-liter and 1.5-liter bottles. The water also is available in 330-ml. and 750-ml. glass bottles. The clear, light glass bottle has curves and a clean line design to appeal to the tactile sense and convey the water’s purity and quality, the company says. The glass bottles work well in restaurants and coffee bars, Stojnovic says.
For the past four years, Jana has marketed itself by being the official water of Madison Square Garden along with the New York Knicks and New York Rangers. While Jana currently is working on an official marketing campaign, it has been active in working with charities, such as earlier this year when it sent 50,000 cases of water to Haiti after the earthquake. Jana also currently sponsors and donates to numerous fundraising walks.
As Jana continues to grow, Stojnovic is keeping his mind focused on his major goal: “to be the leader in the market,” he says. BI