Brands queue to enter Australia’s kombucha-crazy market, but where are the globals?

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Remedy is made from the traditional Kombucha fermenting process.
Remedy is made from the traditional Kombucha fermenting process.

Related tags Alcoholic beverage

Australia’s biggest kombucha manufacturer has launched a new, native flavour, reflecting the lightning-fast growth of the fizzy fermented beverage in the country – but so far the globals don’t seem to getting in on the act.

Remedy Kombucha’s Cherry Plum was released this week to “give retail drinks fridges a makeover​” as consumers continue to seek more healthy options. It will go alongside the brand’s five other flavours.

Remedy is made from the traditional Kombucha fermenting process involving sweet tea and the Scoby live culture of living bacteria and yeast. It contains Kakadu plum from the Northern Territory, which has the highest vitamin C content of any fruit in the world.

We are super excited to be using this Australian ingredient. We’ve wanted to add native ingredients to the mix since we started out​,” said Emmet Condon, Remedy’s co-founder.

Condon, who launched Remedy with his wife Sarah over five years ago, is among some 50 brewers of the sugar-free beverage—a number that has been growing rapidly. Indeed, he has estimated that there “appears to be a new one every week​”.

The couple claim theirs is the biggest kombucha business in Australia, though this might change quickly as global players signal their interest in entering the country’s booming healthy drinks market.

Coca-Cola Amatil's chief executive, Alison Watkins, revealed earlier this year that functional beverages such as the kombucha represented “interesting opportunities​” for the distributor and bottler.

READ: Kombucha Market - Industry, trends and growth (Lumina Intelligence)

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"It's definitely an area where we can do more​,” she said, while noting that a kombucha release should not distract the company from CCA’s core brands.

"It's really about being a total beverage company​,” Watkins added.

Meanwhile, PepsiCo late last year agreed to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to buy the rest of the North American kombucha seller KeVita it didn't own.

Neither multinational has announced plans yet to bring the fermented drink to Australia, though market activity alone suggests that such a move could be on the horizon.

The country played host to the second-highest number of kombucha beverage launches globally in 2016, just behind America. More than three-quarters of these launches featured an organic claim, with half claiming to be gluten-free and 16% featuring a low, no or reduced sugar formulation, according to Mintel.

Kombucha is proving to be a beverage that defies definition and will ultimately compete with other functional and probiotic beverages. While, in essence, it is a tea drink, many brands use fruit juices and superfoods to enhance health credentials​,” said Jodie Minotto, a food trends analyst at the market intelligence agency.

Expansion into other fermented beverages such as kefir and drinking vinegar is emerging as an innovation pathway for kombucha brands looking for growth​,”

For Remedy, the road to expansion comes through the introduction of tastes like Cherry Plum.

New flavours not only excite our existing drinkers, they also offer a way to reach new consumers​,” said Emmet Condon.

“We find trial is the best way to convert consumers into kombucha drinkers​.”

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