At Natural Products Expo East, the company known for making clear diet soda with no artificial flavors and no sugar, showcased a trio of mixers, including “the first ever naturally sweetened, zero-calorie ginger beer, a dry lemon-lime and a tonic water,” company CEO Paddy Spence told FoodNavigator-USA.
He explained that the products are different from many mixers already on the shelf because they are made with stevia instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners so they won’t overload a cocktail with extra calories. Likewise, they have a slightly more “sophisticated, drier” flavor than some of the sodas that consumers currently use in cocktails, he said.
The line, which will start shipping at the end of the year, comes in sleek, “mixer-friendly” 7.5 ounce cans instead of the more familiar 12-ounce options, Spence said. He explained that the smaller cans reduce waste and are ideal for bars and restaurants to use as a premium, upscale, individual-use mixer to serve customers.
The expansion exemplifies a larger movement by soda makers into the craft cocktail space to counter sliding sales in retail due to consumer rejection of sugary beverages.
From energy to hydration
The launch of cocktail mixers follows another launch earlier this summer of Zevia’s zero-calorie energy drinks and slightly sweet sparkling water lines.
The energy drinks deliver 120 mg of caffeine per can but without the calories, sodium, artificial sweeteners and added supplementation that can clutter other energy products’ ingredient lists, Spence said.
Available in Raspberry/Lime, Mango/Ginger and Grapefruit, the energy drinks are all Non-GMO Project Verified, as are all of Zevia’s products.
The sparkling waters, which come in lime, cucumber lemon, mandarin orange and blackberry, stand apart from the competition because they offer a touch of sweetness from stevia without the calories that come with sugar, Spence said.
“There is nothing wrong with a couple of grams of sugar, but if you didn’t have to have it, why would you?” he asked.
A simplified sweetener
In addition to showcasing the cocktail mixers for the first time at Expo East, Zevia also announced a simplified sweetener for all its products across categories.
The company now uses only stevia to sweeten its products, rather than the blend of stevia, erythritol and monkfruit, for a simpler, cleaner ingredient deck, Spence said. He explained that switch is possible thanks to new blends of stevia compounds that have a better taste than some of the first stevia options, which often needed softening and rounding from other sweeteners.
Looking forward, Spence says Zevia will continue to innovate while remaining true to its roots – similar to how Spence’s role model Sam Adams has done with seasonal and high-end offerings that retain the company’s authenticity.