The drink contains fruit juice and a shot of apple cider vinegar (ACV): which the company hopes will create a more palatable introduction for the fledgling UK market.
Having launched its apple cider vinegar juice late last year, Lost Coast Food believes apple cider vinegar has the potential to follow the US and grow in the UK.
‘If ACV doesn’t taste great, consumers won’t stick around to find out more’
Lost Coast Food Co. founder Thomas Spillane spotted an opportunity for apple cider vinegar in the UK after seeing the trend take off in his home California.
However, his vision for ACV in the UK is different to the brand’s emergence in California (where ACV started as ‘the secret of celebrities and hard core heath fanatics, who knocked back shots each morning’). He sees a much wider audience for ACV – and accordingly has tailored his concept of ACV for the UK market.
“It was clear to me, living for a time in the US and seeing how many people were drinking it, that apple cider vinegar had the potential to be popular in the UK,” he said.
“But I wasn’t sure however whether British consumers would tolerate the taste. So I began adding ACV to juices and playing with the addition of other natural ingredients.
The ACV gives the drinks a distinct character, but Spillane says that making the drinks palatable for the British audience was paramount – “If it didn’t taste great, consumers wouldn’t stick around for long to find out about all of the other benefits of including apple cider vinegar in their diets.”
A low sugar content and all-natural ingredients were other criteria for the drinks.
The result was a sparkling juice drink containing a shot of ACV, which could be produced in a range of natural flavours.
“Inclusion of apple cider vinegar is really what makes these particular drinks special,” said Spillane.
“ACV naturally has quite a tart, acidic flavour profile. The secret was to balance out this stronger flavour with the other ingredients to get the right sweetness and taste in order to come up with the drinks we have now.
“We were lucky to work with partners that had expertise in this regard, though in working through different recipes and formulations I couldn’t tell you how much ACV we drank to get it right.”
The drinks come in three flavors: Mango, Turmeric & Ginger (‘the tropical taste of fresh mango together with a bit of a kick from the turmeric and ginger’); Strawberry, Hibiscus & Rose (‘a delicious fruity taste and quite floral’); and Blueberry, Elderberry & Lemon (‘a refreshing, nice balance of berry and citrusy tastes’).
Lost Coast Apple Cider Vinegar Juice
Apple cider vinegar is made firstly by crushing fresh apples to extract the juice, and then adding yeast to initiate fermentation. After around four weeks, ‘good’ bacteria are mixed in and sugars turn to acetic acid in a second fermentation process.
Lost Coast’s Sparkling Apple Cider Vinegar Juices come in three flavours: Mango, Turmeric & Ginger; Strawberry, Hibiscus & Rose; and Blueberry, Elderberry & Lemon.
Drinks contain around 13 calories per 100ml or around 40 calories per bottle (depending on flavor), are sweetened with agave nectar, and are suitable for vegans.
The shelf life is 18 months, and products can be stored in ambient temperatures but should be consumed chilled.
US vs UK
Lost Coast Food’s target market is the growing audience of drinkers who want healthier soft drinks with a functional benefit.
“Our target consumers want a beverage that above all tastes great and that they really enjoy drinking, but that doesn’t come loaded with sugar, artificial ingredients, or even “natural” sweeteners that impart strange tastes like stevia,” said Spillane.
“We’re not going for the hardcore gym-goer, but more for the consumer that cares about his or her health and wants to make healthy choices. With our drinks, we aim to make that choice easy for them.”
Spillane has seen ACV take off in the US, with its health halo drawing in consumers.
“Apple cider vinegar is one of those foods/ingredients that has been around forever, used both in cooking and as a natural remedy,” said Spillane.
“Demand for ACV itself has been growing very strongly, with the difference now being the inclusion of this traditional ingredient in more innovative formats and products not previously seen. ACV also fits inside a number of other growing trends including demand for products that are fermented or that include fermented ingredients, as well as interest in foods that promote digestive health.”
And Spillane says the same trends will help the product grow in the UK.
“Specifically related to drinks with ACV, I first saw such products two or three years ago when I was home in California. Since then, a number of related new products have been launched in the US. As the UK market tends to follow such health trends with a slight lag, I’m confident that it will be growing strongly as a category in the UK as well quite shortly.
The biggest challenge for ACV is likely to be competition from other drinks in an increasingly crowded beverage space - particularly other beverages offering functional attributes, adds Spillane.
“The challenge and question for any product like this is determining whether it will grow from niche into something more mainstream for everyday consumers."
ACV and beyond
Lost Coast’s ACV juice launched in late 2018 and are available in the UK in Whole Foods, Holland & Barrett, Ocado, Amazon and Super Valu stores among others.
Spillane now sees an opportunity to expand the brand into cans for consumers who want a more portable option or drink to take to the gym.
The brand also has a new line of non-ACV beverages in the pipeline that it hopes will help build up the brand as a ‘leader in great tasting, innovative and healthier for you drinks’.