The award-winning Gusto Organic range of drinks started life as the brainchild of Craig Sams, organic food pioneer and founder of Green & Black’s chocolate and Whole Earth Food. Back in 1987 Craig mixed up a plant-based cocktail of botanicals as a pick me up drink for the 20thanniversary of Whole Earth Foods at the Groucho Club in London. His potent cola flavoured tipple had the party rocking all night as revellers danced around buzzing on a mix of guarana, ginsengs and kola nut – Gusto Original Energy was born and heralded a new category of functional drinks offering a unique alternative to the emerging chemical energy drinks that were appearing across Europe.
Spin forward to 2019 and Gusto Organic have a range of 6 organic and Fairtrade premium soft drinks and two organic energy drinks. All the Gusto range are Fairtrade certified and bottled down in Devon with spring water from the hills of Exmoor.
Co-founder of Gusto Organic and flavour developer William Fugard:
“In 2017 we launched our organic and Fairtrade Real Cola and Fairtrade Naturally Slim Cola, it was the game changer for Gusto Organic, we were listed in 26 cafes of Tate Modern and Tate Britain and booted out the leading cola brand, it was great proof of concept that customers were happy to make swaps to better, premium organic drinks that are free from refined sugar and chemical horrors such as bone rotting phosphoric acid, synthetic caffeine or aspartame. Our range is all about giving the adult consumer better soft drinks choices with complex flavours delivered by ingredients of exceptional provenance. We take more of a wine maker or brewers’ approach rather than the approach of big brand soda companies and create complex and layered flavours with organic essential oils and some incredible citrus ingredients. The range is free from refined sugar and uses Fairtrade agave to sweeten and Fairtrade apple. Fairtrade is really important to the brand and we support a 1500 Hectare organic agave project in Jalisco Mexico, a Fairtrade apple project in Mongolia and a Fairtrade Bourbon vanilla project in Madagascar. Fairtrade delivers a sustainable future for our farmers and guarantees us the best ingredients and a better managed supply chain.
In 2018 we launched our Fiery Ginger with Chipotle, it’s the quintessential adult soft drink with heat and complexity and a lovely smoky note coming through from the chipotle. It also makes a stunning mixer. Our Sicilian Blood Orange uses organic blood oranges from Mount Etna, we buy direct from the farm and use the whole orange, skin and juice, it’s a very special fizzy orange with subtle flavour notes of berry fruit. Our Real Cherry Cola is the world’s first organic cherry cola with organic cherry juice and our Fairtrade Madagascan vanilla, it’s a luxurious and evocative treat free from the chemical nasties found in other cherry colas. In 2019 we launched our Sicilian Lemon with Yuzu; it’s been a finalist at the 2019 Soil Association BOOM Awards and has picked up some stunning listings from Fortnum & Mason to the Waitrose Farm Shop. It’s a gold standard lemonade, unashamedly premium. We sourced fresh yuzu juice and use cold pressed yuzu peel to add the yuzu magic.
The future for Gusto Organic is really exciting, we’ve been crowd funding and have raised more than twice our target so have some great new drinks in the pipeline and some can variants coming out of our core range for mixers and environments where we cannot vend glass.
The last few years have seen explosive growth with our sales doubling year on year, we can see a clear trend of customers drinking less and drinking better, the adult soft drinks consumer has very specific demands and a conscious approach to what they consume. We’ve also been involved with Club Soda and their Mindful drinking festivals and have seen a substantial growth in business, from adults choosing to not drink alcohol or significantly cutting down. It’s a really exciting time to be involved in the world of premium drinks and working with Diverse Fine Food we are picking up some incredible listings in premium grocery, café, farm shop and a real growth area, hotels. Choice is certainly better now in soft drinks and our core messages of organic and Fairtrade have found a strong and supportive audience.
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