However, it claims reduced sugar content goes hand-in-hand with a lack of flavour when using industrial syrups, and there is a risk of artificializing the products further to balance this out - with potentially negative health effects.
'Soft drinks industry is 'hype-oriented'
Julian Warowioff, UK MD, Lemonaid and ChariTea, told BeverageDaily, the soft drinks industry seems to be very hype-oriented these days, driven to be part of the next super trend.
“We have seen the rise of some disruptive new categories in the recent years, from coconut water and cold pressed juice to plant-based milk drinks and birch water. Everybody seems to be waiting for the right moment to jump on that bandwagon,” he said.
“Our philosophy goes in the opposite direction. We have picked two traditional beverage categories, soft drinks and iced teas. By strapping the recipes down to the essential ingredients, e.g. loose tea from Sri Lanka and Blood Oranges from Sicily, we decided to turn against the industry trend of producing soft drinks from compounds.
“Using pure juices without adding any flavourings, this is a return to the traditional virtues of making your home-made lemonade.”
Lemonaid Beverages produces organic Fairtrade certified soft drinks and iced teas. All ingredients are sourced from farming cooperatives who receive fair prices for their produce. Every bottle sold donates to charitable projects in the farming regions. More than £900,000 has been raised for projects in Sri Lanka, South Africa and Paraguay.
The drinks have recently been named “Best Buy” by Ethical Consumer UK for the most ethical soft drinks and energy drinks on the market. ChariTea mate has won a Great Taste Award and the company won “Best CSR Initiative” in the World Beverage Innovation Awards 2015.
Sugar-reduced and lower-calorie options
“The soft drinks market is clearly shifting towards sugar-reduced and lower-calorie options,” added Warowioff.
“Consumers start asking questions about the ingredients in their beverages, what effects they have on their health and how ingredients, e.g. tea, are farmed and under what conditions.
“Being awarded for our social commitment is a reflection of a wider trend in the FMCG industry.”
He said the company is getting close to reaching a significant milestone of having donated a total of £1m for its charitable projects.
Limited space on a product
“While the demand for certified organic ingredients is increasing significantly, a lot of small farmers lack the financial resources to purchase more land to grow their supply,” said Warowioff.
“We have been observing this situation for example in South Africa, where we source our organic Fairtrade rooibos tea from. We are now in the process of setting up a fund to help farmers buy additional acres of land to expand their production.”
He also finds communicating the whole story behind its social business on the limited space of a product a real challenge.
“Reaching the end consumer and telling him what projects he is supporting and the difference it makes to the local people in the growing regions is a hard nut,” he added.
“We are focusing increasingly on social media to create a direct dialogue with the consumer whom we would otherwise hardly meet at the point of sale.”
The most innovative in the range is ChariTea’s, mate from yerba mate leaves from South America.
Yerba mate is a traditional brew that’s been said to offer the ‘strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate’.