This year the World Beverage Innovation Awards’ product categories welcomed brilliant entries that truly captured the spirit of innovation.
The brands showcased finished products that tap into top consumer trends in the food and beverage industry, from health and functional benefits to the use of natural and organic ingredients, on-the-go convenience and premium and artisan positioning.
Here, we’re having a closer look at the winner and finalist products in sparkling beverages, coffee and tea, and alcohol drinks.
The winner in the best sparkling beverage category this year was House of Amir, a luxury non-alcoholic drink that impressed the judges with its premium packaging and presentation. Developed as a wine alternative, Amir blends grape juice with rooibos tea and indigenous herbs to attain a unique and complex taste.
Talking Beverages was selected as a finalist with its two ranges: The Sparkling Ice essence of, a sparkling water line that combines sparkling water, natural flavours, fruit juice and vitamins to offer a lightly carbonated beverage; and Bold Side of Water, the 12kcal drink offered in four ‘bold’ flavours of black raspberry, orange-mango, peach-nectarine and kiwi-strawberry.
In the best premium or adult drink category, Double Dutch Soft Drinks was selected as the winner thanks to its holistic production process that calls upon flavour pairing techniques, finest ingredients, scientific research and the craft of mixology. The premium range can also be consumed alone and is available in watermelon and cucumber, and pomegranate and basil flavours.
Thomas & Evans from Britvic impressed with its non-alcholic gin and tonic substitute that filters the handpicked green fruits through silver birch charcoal and blends them with 19 botanical extracts and sparkling water.
Gran Malta also offered an alcohol alternative with their malt beverages, available in classic, mango, guarana-açaí and lime flavours.
Another finalist in the category, Lofoten, stood out as a premium unfiltered water from Norway’s Lofoten islands and is the only premium water brand that is not distilled or filtered, as the spring is constantly renewed by glacial melt and pure fresh rainwater unlike any other natural drinking water sources.
Representing the rising relaxation drinks trend, Zendo Calm +Focus was a distinctive entry as a functional drink that contributes to less stress and more focus thanks to its unique combination of active ingredients of natural origin with scientifically proven effects. The drink contains no added sugar and excludes any type of preservatives, artificial colourings or flavourings.
Moving onto alcoholic drinks, The Cambridge Distillery took the best new alcohol drink award with Watenshi, the Japanese Angel.
Watenshi is distilled under vacuum at half the pressure found on top of Mount Everest and at a temperature lower than the coldest day recorded at the South Pole, creating a gin with unparalleled intensity and complexity. Only six bottles are available every year, selling out within moments of its release.
Cerex Brewing was highly commended for its new innovative concept beer, Andares, the first Iberian ham beer in the world, while Sikkim Gin from Sibaris Privee pleased the judges with quirky packaging as well as a unique base made from the red tea that grows in the Tibetan Sikkim region where some of the best teas in the world are grown.
In the best coffee category, sustainability, social responsibility and quality were the true winners this year.
Crowned as the best coffee of the year, Change Please is in fact a social enterprise that supports homeless people back into employment, accommodation and provides them with support for their wellbeing, bringing the voluntary, public and commercial worlds together.
As well as employing homeless people as baristas, it also sources its coffee from cooperatives and social enterprises in Peru and Tanzania, which is then roasted by the homeless, shipped by vans run on sustainable energy and served in compostable cups. Even the coffee grounds are converted into biofuel and the brand wants to be completely carbon-neutral by January 2017.
Upping the ante in sustainability, Ethical Bean Coffee comes in 100% compostable pods made from coffee bean chaff and other renewable materials. The innovative pods are VPI-certified and tests in municipal composting show that they can break down in as little as five weeks, which is faster than many other kinds of common food waste.
Lilly Kerridge’s coffee kit is created from a blend of what’s regarded for some as the world’s finest coffee, the Jamaica Blue Mountain, and the legendary Vlarhona chocolate-making technique to create a truly artisan, gourmet coffee that is one-of-a-kind as a commercial product.
The coffee beans are first roasted to a cinnamon roast; then a portion of them are placed in a panning machine for the 70% cocoa dark chocolate coating and finished with a specifically formulated coating polish to attain a nice sheen on the beans.
The products are finally placed in gold silk bag,s handcrafted and individually sewn by the founder, and finally placed in a stylish red and black presentation box. The boxes contain two different coffee products: one is to be grinded and enjoyed as coffee, and the other chocolate coated beans are ready to eat.
In the best tea category, health, naturalness and wellness prevailed above all once again.
The winner of the category, T-tox, makes a range that is created specially for the fitness industry. The three distinct blends – matcha energy, matcha recovery and matcha health – are specifically formulated for pre-exercise, post-exercise and overall active day high performance.
The range is designed by founder Johnny Harris, who has sixteen years of experience in the fitness industry, using the highest grade matcha powder tea exclusively produced by an in-house tea blender. Proprietary recipes are created by using herbs with proven health benefits and presented in a convenient on-the-go format thanks to the T-tox glass shaker that comes with the range.
Teatulia organic teas stand out as a social enterprise that started as an initiative to create jobs in an impoverished area of Bangladesh, and grew to be one of the largest tea gardens in the world.
The cooperative teaches organic farming, allowing its members to provide for their families and strengthen their socio-economic condition by earning a profit on their crops.
Teatulia uses only clean farming practices and uses environmentally friendly eco-canisters made from 100% compostable and recyclable materials.
Finally, PepsiCo’s new Lipton Pure Leaf House Collection offers a premium range of organic loose-leaf teas that aim to create the same experience for consumers that they’d receive in an artisan tea shop.
The expertly crafted recipe pairings not only nuance the notes of the loose tea leaves with a hint of their matching fruit or herb companion, such as the Fuji apple and hinger, Sicilian lemon and honeysuckle, and wild blackberry and sage.
To find out more about the World Food Innovation Awards 2017, click here.
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