Anuga 2015: drinks inspiration
So where to begin with drinks? My first half hour into the giant hall 8 left me feeling a little ho-hum, normally the drinks floors are full of innovation, and I wasn't seeing much. And where were the big German brewers that in the past were so dominant? Not here, this year. But hang on... what's this out of Ukraine, of all places?
NOW here was something interesting, an Eastern European water enhancer from Live Juice, a company from Chernivtsi, Ukraine. They were exhibiting novel 100% pure fruit concentrates, packaged in stick pouches. They claim they contain nothing but fruit, with the juice concentrated by ten to 38% acidity and so its own preservative at ambient temps.
You snip the stick and make up the beverage to your taste - and they drink beautifully. One stick is designed to flavour 150-170ml water. As the water evaporation is done by vacuum at 50°, all vitamins and minerals are preserved.
I loved this apparently simple concept; great taste, only the sugar of the fruit, low-cost packaging, super-portable, low-cost transport/distribution - and it struck me as a brilliant small-portion/convenience idea for developing countries; and as a great convenience option for work/school/picnic lunchboxes.
See more at www.livejuice.com.ua
Some more mooching along the aisles later, it suddenly struck me that there was a lot of aloe vera being touted on a number of stands; a longtime niche ingredient was now apparently the star of the show.
"This is the tastiest way to stay healthy!" an eager stand-hand assured me as I sampled the unusual pulpy elixir.... and looking at the scientific research behind aloes' long-regarded benefits, she wasn't wrong.
It's packed with vitamins, including B, C, and vitamin E, as well as folic acid, and has been called a detoxifying agent ie reducing inflammatory skin conditions and digestive problems; it supports the immune system; lowers cholesterol and blood sugar; and is excellent for gut health generally.
This on-trend in beverages must be of great joy to SA's own aloe queen, Barbara Langschmidt ofin Cape Town who, after many years travail, is now finding ready markets for her beloved indigenous Aloe Ferox....
Aloe vera juices were not the only pulpy drinks to be found in some abundance at Anuga - there were heaps of juices with fruit pieces and pulp to sample, and while these may not be to mainstream tastes, the bits certainly add a cachet of interesting mouthfeel, texture and an 'authentically natural' halo.
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Coconut not to be outdone
Aloe may have been loud and proud at Anuga, but it certainly wasn't tipping coconut off its lofty perch. The question I had to ask myself: "Who doesn't have some coconut water in their portfolio?" It was everywhere, in a myriad of flavours, blends, even sparkling, and packaging formats.
Coconut, per se, is finding astonishing new Western fame - and to see how much, just search for coconut on the Anuga 2015 New Products Database,
Pearls of flavour
Talking texture, one of the most novel beverages I came across, not in the drinks hall,but on the UK's Fine Food Pavilion, was Jools Drinks, a new generation of super healthy drinks containing kelp (alginate) pearls filled with superfruit juices and vitamins.
This is not bubble tea, whose edible balls are made of tapioca, but rather the Jools range features three fruity green teas in exciting flavour combinations ie apple with lychee pearls, mango with acerola pearls and cranberry with acai pearls, and the bottles come with attached wide straw to sip up the pearls.
These drinks - that have garnered a pile of innovaton attention and awards - offer a new proposition that is healthy, tasty and fun. The pearl technology allows two flavours to be kept separate within one drink to provide uncompromised taste performance. There is also 100% RDA of 8 vitamins inside every bottle with less than 4% of natural sugars. At just 90 calories the Jools range is also fat-free, cholesterol-free, gluten and dairy free and has no added sugar or preservatives.
See more at
The Jools rep told me the pearls are made in Germany, no doubt by the German arm of Possmei International, the Taiwan manufacturer that had a busy stand in Hall 7. They were showing a huge range of sweet and savoury balls - the result of fascinating molecular spherification technology.
See more at http://possmeieurope.com/
It's normal tea. Only better.
I came across another beverage pearl on here, too - No More Tea Bags. The brochure blurb explains it all:
"We thought there's got to be a better way to make tea than with those soggy old tea bags... Well, it turns out there is. We brew proper leaf tea for the perfect amount of time so you don't have to, and it’s never underbrewed or stewed. All you do is add hot water. You can easily control the strength, it only takes two ticks and it's delicious. All this without a tea bag in sight!"
There are three flavours, Original, Jasmine and Earl Grey. Each bottle of concentrate makes up 50 cups of instant tea.
It drank superbly, and this tea-phile left the stand after an amusing interaction with its charming proprietor, clad in a light pink linen suit, nogal, thinking, "No brainer! Wish I could take a case of these home..."
The same company also produces a range of iced tea concentrates (tea leaves, fresh herbs, flowers and dried fruit) called YumCha, and they have a new trick up their sleeves, too, with said charming, pink-suited man also showing a prototype tea concentrate in funky aerosol format.
See more atand
It's espresso. Only sparkling.
The idea of a sparkling espresso takes some getting used to - but coffee's versatility knows no limits. Here is Moko Instinct, a genuine sparkling coffee infusion from Italy, without added flavours or preservatives. It is delicious. Not too sweet, intense in flavour, no bitterness, great as a cocktail mixer, hearty caffeine kick, and a very adult drink, I thought.
Aside from a wide assortment of energy drinks, some crass, some classy, there were a number of interesting functional beverages, targeted at women, to be found in Hall 7. You may query their efficacy, but you can't fault simply gorgeous presentation and branding.
|This Belgian-made health drink is the first naturally blue drink, containing a spirulina extract, is rich in phycocyanine, and touting the following benefits: sustaining energy, antioxidant, anti-free radicals and anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, anti-aging, and detoxing.|
From Slovakia, a range of vitamin, health and energy drinks.
Hailing from Poland, and an offshoot of an upmarket mineral water brand, this is a range of beauty beverages with a daily recommended dose of collagen (2.5g), as well as other active ingredients.
More beautiful branding...
There were plenty more outstanding examples of packaging/brand design excellence to thrill the eye ... here are some I thought very appealing:
Premium mineral water in classic glass, L'eau San Souci, from Germany.
Organic apple cider range from Elbler, Germany.
Levico sparkling organic fruit drinks (200ml), from Italy, in four traditional Mediterranean flavours.
Spring Aqua premium water from Finn Springs, Finland’s largest spring water bottler. These elegant PET bottles won gold in Sept at the international Pentawards 2015 packaging design competition in London.
Some drinks seem to find their genesis in novelty value alone - and I found these three that seemed to fit this mould:
From Germany's top fruit-wine company, Katlenburger, ChocoSecco is the latest addition to its extensive range of wine coolers etc; chocolate-flavoured Prosecco sparkling wine.
Targeted at women: 'they love chocolate and tingling indulgence'. They aren't wrong - and it even tasted rather good! Flavour by Symrise.
Austria has much enchanting cultural iconography, among it, apple strudel. So why not put it in a bottle? And this is what the founders of Omi Apfelstrudel have created. Made from Austrian Styrian apples, the fruit is direct pressed and flavoured with cinnamon, finis. No added sugar, preservatives, colouring or concentrate!
A lovely take on Austrian tradition, complete with Austrian granny, Omi, to tell the brand story.
Here was another twist on sparkling wine from Spanish company, Espadafor.
Lying still, the wine looks like any normal bottle of sparkling, but pick it up, give it a small shake, and it turns magically, metallic cloudy.
A fun party element that would derive plenty of attention!
There's no taste impact - and it's also available in non-alcoholic format.
Delivery by straw
It was interesting to catch up with Unistraw, the Australian company that launched the famous Sipahh straw - to flavour milk with only half a tsp of sugar and no artificial additives - to the international market eight years ago, to much acclaim and a pile of innovation awards.
It was acquired by India's SRS group in 2012, a company that focuses on being first-to-market with off-patent drugs and improving drug delivery through novel and patentable delivery devices, and it has now started applying the Unistraw Delivery System in the field of complementary medicine and pharmaceuticals.
The technology can add fun, flavour, energy, vitamins, nutrition and medication to any beverage, including water. The variety of straws now on offer is astonishing. See more at www.unistraw.com
Adjacent to the Unistraw stand was a Hungarian competitor, QuickVital, that's producing both milk flavourant and vitamin-mineral mixes in slurp-up format. Unistraw has been very careful to secure its IP around the globe, so how this one is unchallenged (or not) would be interesting to know. See more at www.quickvital.hu
Wine, per se, is not a major feature at Anuga as the sector has so many specialist expos, but I came across at least four exhibitors promoting non-alcoholic wines.
These have been around for decades, but they're often thought of as being the less tasty and edgy cousins of the boozy stuff. But there is a new market evolving, with plenty of consumers searching for that wine taste but they don't want to drink-drive, during a professional event or as an alternative to soda, never mind the vast global Muslim market, or those who simply eschew alcohol for all sorts of reasons.
Some of the samples I tasted were genuine chardonnay, merlot etc that had been de-alcoholised, and others were more adult soft drinks, created from fruit juices and flavours, and packaged to emulate the real thing. Served in a proper wine glass, most drank exceptionally well, so well, in fact, that if you were in a party frame-of-mind, a placebo effect might even kick in! BUT but but ... that said, nothing can ever match the hit of alcohol. Will it ever be ably copied?
Pictured here is a new cranberry 'wine' from a start-up Germany company, see more at https://www.i-love-priamo.com/
Wine-to-go with Le Petit Raisin
I had a most interesting half hour on this stand. I love the convenience concept of wine in a glass, and this particular concept - there are surely several others - is reportedly proving a fantastic winner in Europe and elsewhere, and the Le Petit Raisin stand was certainly flooded with interested people.
Tasting samples were carefully chosen to be over eight months old to prove their wines' shelf life, thanks to nitrogen flushing and oxidation protection from the PET bottle and foil seal.
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Saving the best for last
At a show encompassing the scope and size of Anuga, it's no simple matter to answer, "What drink did you like best?" There was, however, one candidate that stood out for me, never mind that on first sight it was an unlikely one: Frisches BLUT or Fresh Blood, a caffeine-free energy drink comprising cranberry and ginger as its key flavour qualities.
Fresh blood can indeed be linked to imagery of life, energy and renewal, and while I found the accompanying vampire-ish branding a little out of kilter with its contents, there were no such doubts when it came to taste. Not too sweet, nice acidic balance, subtle notes of ginger. Really superb and, on sheer deliciousness alone, I felt it deserving of my 'Drink of Anuga 2015'. It was also a Taste 15 finalist.
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