Testing Non-Alcoholic Shrubs for the Modern Drinker

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Jemima Heard
3 Minutes

LAFIC helped Wolfe’s Drinks to launch a new-to-firm product and confirm a shelf-life of 18 months for their all-natural, non-alcoholic cocktail bases "Wolfe’s Shrubs". They also received:

  • Consultancy Support for Scaling Up
  • Micro & Nutritional Testing and Analysis on two "Shrub" beverages
  • Shelf-Life Trials for two products
  • Process support and HACCP review
  • Access to sell, their products and Borough Market through the Food Futures Programme

Wolfe’s Drinks produce non-alcoholic cocktail bases' that are modern and complex for the adult market'. They use an ancient method of making vinegar-based fruit syrups to produce a product that is entirely natural.

Drinking Trends in the UK

Between the years of 1990 - 2017, alcohol consumption in the UK declined by almost 10% - and experts at The Lancet predict this down-ward trend to continue.

At the same time, the way British people choose to consume alcohol is changing. Research shows that one-fifth of alcohol drinkers are now choosing cocktails over beer and wine, with 40% of us owning cocktail-making equipment. Non-alcoholic Shrubs like those made by Wolfe’sDrinks are bridging the gap between the theatre and performance of cocktail making- without the health implications that come with high-percentage spirits.

 Elegance Without Alcohol

The cocktail has long been seen as a sign of elegance in pop-culture, from James Bond's Martini's (Shaken, not stirred), toMad Men's Old Fashioned, to Queen Gambit's Gibson Martini, all of which have influenced drinking culture - but this attitude to drinking can be isolating for those who don't want to drink alcohol.

"Our market research showed us that there was almost no offer for people socialising who wanted to drink something interesting and elegant, but didn't want to drink alcohol," Wolfe’s Drinks founder, Bron Wolfe, explains.

Supporting Wolfe’s Drinks & Healthy Living withLAFIC & Borough Market

Bron Wolfe has been a member of the London AgriFoodInnovation Clinic since early 2019. Her journey started with SBI's workshops, before joining LAFIC's Borough Market initiative.

"Our biggest achievement was successfully selling our drinks at Borough Market, pre-Christmas 2019 and early 2020. Part of the reason for that success was attending LAFIC's product development and business workshops to hone what I was doing and have an offer that would work well at the market."

In October 2020, Wolfe’s Drinks began collaborating with LAFIC technicians to work on scaling up production. This work completed inJuly 2021.

The Results of Our Collaboration

Micro & nutritional testing and analysis showed that Wolfe’s Pineapple, Chilli & Lime Leaf Shrub is a source of Manganese, which is a trace mineral found naturally occurring in the human body. Manganese contributes to:

  • Normal energy-yielding metabolism
  • Maintenance of normal bones
  • Protection of cells from oxidative stress
  • Normal formation of connective tissues.

This information can now be used by Wolfe’s Drinks to inform market positioning for their shrubs, as well as helping design ‘back of pack label’ content.

Before the shelf-life testing of Wolfe’s Shrubs occurred, it was anticipated that the drinks would have a shelf-life of 12months. Our testing showed that both products tested had a shelf-life of 18months.

The Future of Wolfe’s Shrubs

The next step will be scaling up production of the Shrubs in a way that enables Bron to retain the integrity of the natural production process, considering the time required to allow the drinks to develop balanced flavours. This step has been delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions.  

“It has been such a great opportunity to have access to development experts like Ruth Dolby and Ian Meadows at theProduct Development bootcamp and one to one sessions, also with Yabby to check and refine my processes. Definitely helpful as well to plug into the network and support of other food businesses who are at early stages – as I’m mostly working alone at the moment, it provides some context for where I’m at and possible routes forward.”

Do you have an innovative food or beverage product that you’d like to take to market? See how LAFIC can help at www.lafic.co.uk