Poppilu taps into underutilized Aronia berry to create antioxidant lemonade

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

The company will continue to expand distribution throughout the US Midwest into 2018, founder says.
The company will continue to expand distribution throughout the US Midwest into 2018, founder says.

Related tags Sugar functional beverage beverage

Beverage startup Poppilu hopes its antioxidant lemonade can establish a strong foothold in the Midwest region where it sources its powerhouse ingredient for its lemonade products, the Aronia berry.

The company recently gained distribution at Albertsons-owned 185 Jewel-Osco stores.

Poppilu founder, Melanie Kahn, wanted to create a lemonade made with real lemons that still had a bold citrus flavor but that was also low in sugar – a quest that stemmed from a citrus craving she had when pregnant with her second child.

“I was really looking for something that didn’t exist,”​ Kahn told BeverageDaily. “The stuff on the market is really junky and doesn’t have a lot of citrus and is really high in sugar.”

To create a healthier version of lemonade that still had a sweet flavor profile, Kahn turned to Aronia.

Aronia berries are a woody perennial shrub that grow along woodland edges particularly in the Midwestern states such as Illinois and Iowa. The berries itself are a deep purple due to its high polyphenol content (1752 mg per 100 g dry weight), especially anthcyanins, according to the polyphenol content database, Phenol-Explorer.

The company’s three lemonade flavors, blueberry lavender, passionfruit, and original lemonade, are all naturally pink in color due to the Aronia’s dark hue.

Each of the company’s three flavors contains 60 calories per 12-ounce bottle, 16-19% juice, cane sugar, and stevia leaf extract.

“Because at the end of the day, lemonade isn’t lemonade unless it’s sweet,”​ Kahn said.

A timeless category

Lemonade has come to the forefront with the global lemonade drinks market expected to increase annually by 6% through 2021 due its ability to play into many rising consumer trends such as premium, hand-crafted, and natural beverages.

Poppilu Original Lemonade

Made with California lemons, midwest aroniaberries, no artificial ingredients.

Ingredients: Filtered water, lemon juice, cane sugar, aronia juice, stevia leaf extract.

60 calories per serve.

“Lemonade has been around forever; it’s a category that’s timeless,”​ Kahn said.

“If there’s a way to improve upon a timeless category, that’s what I’m doing here.”

Kahn added that while 2017 was a “test year”​ for Poppilu she is also exploring new and interesting ways to use Aronia.

To use or not to use a sweetener

One of the biggest hurdles Kahn says she had to overcome was using a zero-calorie sweetener like stevia in order to keep the calorie content down to 60 calories.

Kahn says she was wary of using stevia because of the perception of an after-taste associated with the sweetener: something she believes she has overcome by using very high-quality stevia leaf extract in low amounts in her lemonade.  

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