Profiting from probiotics: Aussie start-up's sparkling beverages gaining ground in APAC

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

The sparkling bottled beverages are made using apple cider vinegar brewed in small batches on a biodynamic farm in Victoria.
The sparkling bottled beverages are made using apple cider vinegar brewed in small batches on a biodynamic farm in Victoria.

Related tags Probiotic functional beverage beverage

Australian start-up Kréol could be one of the country's first to develop a line of dual-strain sparkling probiotic beverages, according to co-founder Andrew Rush.

He told NutraIngredients-Asia​: "We aware of other brands doing probiotic drinks, and many brands are now referring to kombucha as a sparkling probiotic drink. But we have not seen any other dual-strain probiotic (beverage) in Australia."

The strains Lactobacillus Plantarum ​and Bacillus Coagulans​ are used in Kréol's probiotic drinks, which were "carefully selected" ​as they "support gut flora, are hardy, and have good survival rates through stomach acids, so as to be able to colonise in the gastrointestinal tract"​.

He added: "These attributes were important factors when selecting our probiotics, to ensure their stability after digestion, as well as (their ability to) improve digestive health."

The sparkling bottled beverages are made using apple cider vinegar brewed in small batches on a biodynamic farm in Victoria, and according to Andrew and his sister-in-law, Kréol co-owner Chloe Rush, contain no caffeine or added sugar.

Better than soda?

Andrew said the drinks were essentially a healthier alternative to soft drinks.

The brand also has a range of prebiotic drinks, with both ranges available in three fruity flavours each.

He continued: "We try to use the best ingredients and we source everything locally. We pay a premium for our apple cider vinegar, and don't compromise on the quality of our ingredients.

"The probiotics used in our beverages have been heavily researched and widely linked to supporting gut flora and overall gut health.

"We have endeavoured to work closely with our suppliers and research teams to ensure we maximise functionality and bring one of the best health drinks to market."

Kréol's target demographic comprises mainly educated, health-conscious 20-year-olds to 40-year-olds, who are likely to find the concept of a ready-to-drink nutritious beverage appealing.

An 'exciting' time

Chloe started out in the beverage industry supplying her own cold-pressed juices to cafés in Australia on a wholesale basis, before going on to run several cafés in Melbourne with Andrew.

But after conducting some research on gut health and keeping tabs on market trends, they saw an opportunity in the probiotic beverage space and decided to embark on a different career path.

She said: "You can walk into a supermarket and see whole shelves of functional drinks. It’s exciting to see all the emerging brands in this segment."

Kréol is among such brands, with over 350 cafés and wholefood stores in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore stocking its products.

However, only its prebiotic range is sold in Singapore, as the volatility of probiotics requires the drinks to be refrigerated at a specific temperature, making shipping to countries further away than New Zealand difficult.

The start-up's turnover last year stood at A$400,000, and it is aiming for A$1m in sales this financial year.

How things work

At the moment, Kréol relies on a lean operation: apart from Andrew and Chloe, the start-up has four employees. It also rents a manufacturing facility in Australia where its products are made and bottled.

Andrew said, "Having minimal overhead means we can focus on the brand, which is still in its beginning stages."

However, Chloe revealed, "As part of our growth strategy, we do intend to hire more people to work with our distributors and provide the company with more support."

With regards to increasing Kréol's domestic presence, she said: "Our brand and products are quite niche and unique. Moving into a commercial space and being in a wider, more competitive market is not the right thing for us now."

Still, the company is aiming for a greater presence in Asia, and has received interest from the Philippines.

Chloe said: "There's still very much to do in Australia, but it's only a matter of time and of finding the right partners in other countries."

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