Expo West 2016

CideRoad: Switchel meets demand for bolder flavors

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Vinegar Cider

The sweet but tart taste of switchel can be polarizing, says Cide Road founder Kevin Duffy. But it meets a growing demand for bolder, more sophisticated, flavors that has helped to drive sales of products such as kombucha, adds Duffy, who has now secured listings for Cide Road in almost 2,000 stores.

Not everyone likes switchel ​[which Cide Road makes with apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, ginger, cane syrup and water], but people that love it, really love it," ​he told FoodNavigator-USA's editor Elaine Watson at the 2016 Expo West show in Anaheim.

"And the people that aren't sure are starting to come around as people's taste are changing. There are a lot more vinegar-based drinks on the market now and all the buyers are looking for products that are functional and taste great."

While some affionados make all kinds of claims about switchel’s purported digestive health benefits, Duffy prefers to focus on its distinctive taste and all-American roots (each bottle features the strapline, 'America’s original thirst quencher').

Duffy himself came across switchel (of the home-made variety) during a family vacation in New England, and it blew his mind.

“I asked the lady who made it if I could buy the recipe, and she basically said don't waste your money, it's very easy, just work out how to make it yourself."

So he did, initially in his kitchen, and later with beverage consultancy MetaBrand, which helped him formulate a commercial recipe and find the industry contacts to turn his vision into a commercial reality.

The first orders arrived in early 2015, says Duffy, who has struck deals with natural products distributors UNFI and KeHE over the past year and is now working on several line extensions.

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