Talking with BeverageDaily.com editor Ben Bouckley at Anuga Taste the Future 2013 in Cologne, Sørensen said he decided to start the wider CULT energy drinks brand in 1998, when he was running one of Denmark’s largest nightclubs.
“I was in the nightclub business, and I needed something to keep people awake long into the night – I needed something in my club to get people to stay longer,” Sørensen says.
Tight legislation in Denmark – you are not allowed to add vitamins to drinks – meant that CULT Energy was the only energy drinks sold in the country until 2009, he adds.
‘You have to think differently’
The stronger version of CULT Cola contains 320mg of caffeine per can (a standard can of UK Coke has 32mg); the brand also sells a 150mg version for markets with stricter rules over caffeine content.
The 'world's strongest cola' is clearly one USP that helps CULT Cola outsell Pepsi (at least with its 500ml SKU) in convenience and supermarket sales channels in Denmark.
But given pressure on industry over supposedly high caffeine levels in energy drinks - see the French food safety agency's warning last week - and even standard colas, why is CULT keen to push in the opposite direction?
“Cola is a big industry but it’s run by two companies [PepsiCo and The Coca-Cola Company], and you have to think differently if you want any space on that shelf,” Sørensen says.
“So we invented a cola with much more caffeine than a conventional cola,” he adds.
“We thought that if we crossed over from energy drinks to cola, we might get some customers who didn’t like the ‘medical’ taste of energy drinks.”