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Kiwi Companies Create World-First Functional Beverage

A collaboration between two Kiwi exporters has developed a new world-first beverage, a shelf-stable collagen and artesian water blend.

The new Adashiko Collagen Refresh water is the first in the world to contain pure collagen and pure water - with no preservatives, no flavouring, colours or other additives and is set to introduce nutraceutical beverages to the hospitality industry.

The company already has interest from customers in export markets around the world as it looks to capture a share of a $2 billion global collagen RTD category.

Luci Firth, Adashiko CEO, says the new beverage is designed to rejuvenate the premium bottled water industry.

She says the product was also ranged in local supermarkets within its first week of launch and is already exceeding initial sales forecasts.

“The bottled water category in the hospitality industry typically consists of unflavoured still and sparkling varieties and has seen little innovation for some time.

“Many New Zealanders will struggle to pay for bottled water and with so little value added by suppliers, restaurateurs and bar owners are left to compete head-on with tap water, while still having to cover the cost of supplying it.

“The addition of a functional water product to this category means they will now be able to offer a competing product which they can justify retailing at a premium price point,” she says.

Firth says the neutral-tasting, odourless collagen water can also be used as a mixer for cocktails.

The development of the product took over a year and was a joint venture between her company and Hawke’s Bay manufacturer Parker Beverages.

Doug Speedy, managing director of Parkers Beverage Company, says specialised equipment allowed them to pasteurise the product to a precisely controlled temperature.

“After several iterations in the trial process, ultimately it was the purity of the ingredients collagen and water that helped us create a shelf-stable final product - the first time this has been done.

“What we found is that the refined collagen also gives the water a crisp, light taste and there was no need for additional flavours to mask any bitter notes that can be associated with this type of product,” he says.

He says the use of pure NZ artesian water from an on-site well is a valuable marketing asset in building international brand equity at the moment.

“Exporting bottled water from New Zealand can be a tough sell, there are relatively low barriers to entry and little point of differentiation which has commoditised the category.

“There is currently strong interest on a global level for Kiwi made wellness products and the initial discussions we have had with buyers overseas suggest this will be a key differentiator for us as part of our export marketing strategy,” he says.

Speedy says each market around the world views the same ingredients differently which entails navigating each country’s requirements.

“With a beverage like this the conversation isn't just around product and price, it is product, price and regulations.

“None of these challenges are insurmountable however and we have already begun the process in several key markets such as Australia, USA and Singapore,” he says.

Firth says the initial concept first came to her while in Japan, where the collagen market is well developed and is a common addition to many products.

“We see the market for our collagen water product as unisex, while it appeals to females from a cosmetic perspective, many males will also take it for functional benefits such as joint support.

“Local interest from New Zealand buyers in both the FMCG and hospitality industries has been strong and the product is now retailing in a number of supermarkets, restaurants and bars around the country with an increased uptake expected from both channels as we head into summer,” she says.

Firth says the company is now seeking distribution partners in USA.

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