Chia seed drinks tap into consumer movement ‘away from all things sugary’

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

wow has gained approval to use chia seed in fruit juice & fruit juice blends in the EU.
wow has gained approval to use chia seed in fruit juice & fruit juice blends in the EU.

Related tags Fruit functional beverage beverage

Chia seed based drinks can disrupt the beverage market thanks to two key attributes: around 33% less sugar than fruit juice and an array of functional benefits, according to chia seed based drink brand wow. 

The brand was initially launched in Germany and has recently been introduced in the UK. It says it is the first company in Europe to be granted FSA approval to produce chia seed based drinks.

The drink contains raw and fresh fruit, vegetables and chia seeds. The chia seeds have been chosen to provide a rich source of protein, calcium, fiber, iron, oxidants and omega-3, says the brand.

‘For months we couldn’t decide whether to mill the seeds or not’

The brand was founded by university friends and young entrepreneurs, Oliver Dickinson and Rory Paterson. It initially launched in Germany and has been followed by the UK.

This month sees the brand enter the Austrian market, to be followed shortly by Scandinavia. It is also set to launch in France later this year, while Spain and Poland are in the pipeline.

The drinks are made with fruit and vegetables with hydrated chia seeds (each bottle contains 11.36g of chia seeds).

Beverages are then treated with HPP, ‘which preserves the nutritional goodness, keeping it raw and fresh.’

Paterson told BeverageDaily that a key selling point of wow is that it contains less sugar than fruit juice and also has functional benefits.

It’s no secret that people are moving away from all things sugary, and rightly so; hence the growing popularity around low calorie and low sugar drinks,” ​he said. 

“By adding chia seeds to fruit and vegetable juice we are delivering a unique product which has on average 33% less sugar than a 'normal' fruit juice whilst also offering an array of functional benefits.  Each bottle of wow delivers 1 of your 5 a day while being high in omega 3, calcium, protein and fiber.”

In fact, getting the most nutrition out of the chia seeds was one of the considerations for the duo as they created their beverage.

For months we couldn't decide whether to mill the seeds or not; we decided to keep them whole because it ensures the fiber levels are unaffected; and consumers find it very reassuring to know that the chia is there and that they are therefore consuming something which is good for them.

“The drinks do have a unique texture but because it is consistent from the first sip to the last, it's very easy to get used to because there are no sudden hidden lumps.

“The flavors are quite delicate and certainly not as pungent as 'normal' fruit or vegetable juice because of the reduced sugar. It's quite difficult to revert to a 'normal' fruit juice afterwards without getting a toothache. 

“The drinks hydrate your body because the seeds help retain the water in your system so it can be absorbed slowly and thus used efficiently.” 

Chia seed drinks: extending juice drinks category

The duo sees wow positioned on shelves alongside other chilled functional drinks.

Chia seeds

"Each bottle contains 11.36g chia seeds, delivering protein and fibre to increase metabolic health and reduce cravings; omega-3 which helps lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure; iron to ensure an extra energy boost; and calcium to enhance hair, nails and skin" - wow 

In September 2015 the company gained approval to use chia seed in fruit juice and fruit juice blends in the EU, following an application under novel food regulation submitted the year before.

“We’re the first company in Europe to be granted FSA approval to produce a chia seed based drink which provides us with a really unique and exciting platform when introducing retailers and customers to wow,” ​said co-founder Dickinson. “It was quite a challenge and the process took us 17 ​months from start to finish. 

“It’s also worth noting that usually the companies who successfully complete ​this process are large multi-nationals, and not start-ups!”

wow is available in four flavors: watermelon & pomegranate; orange, carrot & mango; apple, spinach & kiwi; and blueberry, pear & lemon.

In the UK it has a RRP of £2.79 per 250ml bottle, and is available in retailers including Selfridges, Whole Foods, Planet Organic and Harrods. It is also available via online supermarket Ocado.

In Germany it has listings in supermarkets Kaiser's/Tengelmann and Edeka; and is available in Austria’s SPAR.

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