So, what are Stream Drinks?
This new lifestyle drink is a mineral water-based functional beverage that incorporates natural plant extracts and nutritional additives. It contains no sugar, preservatives and but a few calories.
Stream utilises a unique packaging delivery system whereby its healthy ingredients are stored in the closure. On purchase, the consumer punches the cap to release the contents and then shakes it up to mix them into the water to deliver a healthy thirst quencher. This means the final product is as fresh as possible, experiencing minimal deterioration or oxidation of ingredients from sunlight or transport.
More on the packaging later — let’s look at Stream’s genesis first. As is often the case with bright new ideas, it was pretty prosaic. After a vigorous evening surf, Cape Town medical doctor and avid surfer, James Laporta, scoured several shops in search of something ‘healthy’ to drink on his way home but came away empty-handed. This simple trip sparked the seed for a beverage that was ‘without sugar, without guilt; something that felt “health-giving” and was worthy of
a healthy label,’ as he describes it.
Bandied about with a group of friends, the doc’s bright idea evolved into a business opportunity and has become a burning passion for the team of five, with the backing of two capital investors, who have developed and launched the Stream concept. ‘The brief was simple, but the task has been immensely complex and the journey arduous, but we believe the end result will be well worth it!’ says one-time neuro-psychology honours student, now turned Stream marketer, Ryan Dix-Peek.
Stream was launched internationally to would-be franchisees and distributors in mid-March at London’s International Food Event trade expo (IFE) where it won an IFE Fresh Ideas Award, presented to ten exhibitors with the best innovations.
Not two weeks later, at a special gala during the 7th InnoBev Global Beverages Summit in Washington DC, Stream took several awards at 2011 Beverage Innovation Functional Drinks Awards, organised by FOODBEV MEDIA’S BEVERAGE INNOVATION magazine. The awards attracted more than 150 entries from 22 countries in 16 categories. It was a finalist in five categories: Best natural functional drink; Best energy drink; Best functional drink brand or business; Best natural ingredient for functional drinks; and Best functional drink label. It was highly commended in the category Best packaging for functional drinks.
From dream to Stream
The Stream team’s search to turn concept to reality took them to Afriplex, the Paarl-based producer of botanical ingredients, and well-known for its beverage development expertise, under the guidance of Grant Momple who heads its food and beverage division.
‘It has been a challenging eight-month R&D project — with so many complications to unravel,’ says Grant. ‘First, we had to design the range with the appropriate ingredient recipes, flavour and colour profiles; then we had to carefully consider the ingredient dosages and combinations; then there was the tricky issue of making many of these bitter substances taste agreeable — in fact, several have never been used in beverage format; and finally we had to consider their functional performance in terms of dispersability, clouding, non-clumping and so on.’
With James Laporta’s input, and at his insistence, Grant and his team have ensured that all the functional ingredients in Stream are natural, that dosages are safe and at levels that are active and effective. While Stream makes no claim to treatment or cure of any medical conditions, the beverages’ suggested health benefits are all supported by published scientific research.
A compilation of the research supporting the potential health benefits of the Stream range can be viewed here: http://www.streamdrinks.com/docs.
The secret’s in the cap
Essential to Stream project was that these functional drinks had to deliver what they promised — challenging to impossible in a standard RTD beverage as many nutraceuticals have a limited lifespan in an aqueous solution.
‘The big issue is vitamin degradation — are you really getting what’s advertised on the label — because water, time, light and processing all affect the strength of the vitamins and minerals?’ says Grant.
This little issue finally lead them to the PowerCap, developed by Liquid Health Labs, Deerfield, New Hampshire, US. PowerCap dispensing technology is part of a growing trend in caps and closures that allows the storage of dry or liquid ingredients inside the cap and which are then released into the product upon opening.
The two-part bottle cap protects the active dry ingredients from degradation, allowing them to be dispensed by the consumer with a simple push on the top that cuts a membrane in the bottom part, releasing the stored ingredients into the beverage. The consumer shakes the beverage and it’s ready to drink.
It increases the shelf life and potency of the ingredients since they remain seperate from the water until the cap is pushed. The PowerCap also makes hot filling and pasteurisation unnecessary, making the bottle required less expensive, and the beverage filling process cheaper and more enviromentally friendly.
‘With manufacturers looking for packaging to do more, to help sell their product, they’re looking for some kind of differentiation and things like dosing closures are part of that trend of trying to create more of an experience for the consumer at the time of purchase,’ says Grant. ‘PowerCap not only allows beverage companies to use ingredients that they cannot work with in a standard RTD, but it also abets consumer trust in that they are a part of the beverage development process, and that they are making the product when they need it.’
PowerCap, he adds, allows beverage companies to use ingredients they normally wouldn’t due to limited solubility or shelf life; this expansion of ingredient options is critical as competition heats up in the functional beverage market.
Stream Drinks, in fact, is looking to extend its business beyond its own products via its securing of the exclusive agency for PowerCap in Africa, Israel, Turkey and the Gulf states. It will work with Afriplex who will supply the blended bulk ingredients and fill the caps on a semi-automated line it has set up at its Paarl plant.
From a business perspective, the PowerCap makes great sense, notes Ryan: ‘The production process is greatly simplified for our future franchisees and other PowerCap customers. They can make up their water-based beverages wherever it suits them; we will just ship the filled caps – and thus no expensive transportation of liquid.’ PowerCap can be customised to beverage companies’ desired neck thread sizes and ingredient load capacities.
And still with packaging, the Stream team has gone a differentiation step further by ensuring that its caps top a proprietary 355ml bottle. Of attractive, ergonomic sloping design, it is the work of Hilfort in Cape Town, while the shrink label is by Ferroprint.
It’s all well and cool to have developed and launched a sexy new product, but what about its sales prospects? The Stream team believe they’re, well, streaming and steaming.
‘Stream was a great success at the IFE show in London. It drew amazing reaction and we’ve secured several orders from international distributors and retail outlets and the keen interest of potential franchisees. We’re ready to roll things out in the EU/UK,’ says Ryan. ‘Our PR team in the UK is working on an interesting launch campaign, including celebrity stunts, guerilla marketing at shopping centres and several other below-the-line ideas.’
At home, Ryan says they intend to be a mainstream retail presence, but are starting out slowly with trial marketing via vida e caffe outlets in Cape Town. ‘The opportunity to get into vida e caffe happened per chance and at the right time. This is a good pre-launching platform going into the winter period. Hopefully the trial will see the spread of Stream drinks into the rest of their stores very soon. Overall, we hope to be nationwide by the end of the year.’
Osumo health food chain in Cape Town has also taken Stream into its stores. ‘We find a very good fit with Osumo from a quality and balanced food and drink perspective — our brands complement each other well,’ says Barry Cooke, a director of Stream Drinks.
‘We are taking the view to not outgrow our consumers right at the beginning,’ he stresses. ‘We would rather grow Stream at the pace where our original consumer base will identify with our brand and to be a part of this exciting new era in healthy lifestyle drinks; with fun drinks that take health seriously.’
‘From an ingredients and innovation perspective, we obviously feel very optimistic. People are becoming very aware of what is on the shelves and what they need to consume to maintain a healthier lifestyle. Once we make the move to be in mainstream distribution, we hope that the fun, trendy and healthy vision of Stream is in the mind of the market and we can grow from there.’
The Stream Range
XStream (Tropical Flavour): An energy boost formula with extracts in the form of a tropical flavoured guarana and ginseng combo, enhancing energy and mood levels.
SlipStream (Blueberry Flavour): Blueberry-flavoured brain function enhancer containing resveratrol, inositol and ginseng to increase concentration levels.
UpStream (Lemon & Lime Flavour): Lemon and lime variant, containing CoQ10, resveratrol, ginseng and a prebiotic formula, aimed at boosting the immune system.
McStreamy (Cranberry & Pomegranate Flavour): Cranberry and pomegranate extracts and the ingredients CoQ10, resveratrol, antioxidant mix and L-carnitine, designed to keep ‘you looking and feeling younger’.
LoveStream (Blackcurrant Flavour): A mix of buchu and blackcurrant-containing buchu extracts, ginseng and a super dose of zinc, heightening the five senses and ‘keeping the fun going all night long’.
A little bit more about Streams’ Doc… Currently doing his community service stint at a hospital on the Cape Flats, Dr James Laporta has developed a keen interest in complementary and nutritional medicine over and above his formal medical studies. He is also involved in various NGOs and community work. His desire to continuously learn and develop his knowledge and skills as an integrative medical practitioner is central to Stream Drinks’ ethos and growth as a brand.
The FreshCan Wedge
ALSO aimed at functional beverages, the FreshCan Wedge is technology created by Degussa FreshTech Beverages and Ball Corp. It is similar to Powercap in that it keeps vitamins and minerals separate from a beverage until it’s ready for consumption. In FreshCan’s case, powdered vitamins and minerals are stored in a recyclable plastic wedge that floats inside an aluminum beverage can. When the consumer pulls the tab, nitrogen escapes from the can and the wedge’s top pops off, releasing the vitamins and minerals into the beverage.
See more at http://www.packaging-gateway.com/projects/brain/.