Innovation, new technologies and increasingly healthy alternatives are emerging in the beverage sector. In this ecosystem, as in the food industry, there are a number of trends shaping the sector.
Among the most influential is the rising focus towards sustainability and health. Now, the drinks sector is fully quenched with beverages that are more ethically produced, and are enriched with vitamins, prebiotics, natural ingredients and low-sugar content.
For the younger generation, sustainability and health are going hand-in-hand, with consumers looking for products that are better for their personal well-being and that of the planet. At the same time, many countries across Europe, such as France, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Ireland, have introduced a ‘sugar tax’ to make drinks healthier.
According to market research company Mintel, the top 3 countries for launching sugar-reduced and sugar-free beverage products in the last five years were Great Britain (15%), closely followed by Germany (13%) and France (10%). Another very interesting trend is the rise of non-alcoholic (NOLO) drinks.
New attitudes are calling for new approaches in the world of drinks and cocktails. In the following article, we outline the 10 most interesting startups in the beverage-tech sector that follow these big trends and that we think you should keep an eye on. All of these startups have been founded since 2018.
Gimber: Gimber is an innovative and fast-growing startup that is bringing a new concept to the healthy and functional beverage sector. Their team of 75 employees aims at developing a functional alcohol-free substitute. Gimber is a 100% organic ginger concentrate, packed with a delicate blend of more than 38% premium organic ginger, lemons, herbs, spices and gems in order to present a high-quality product. This fresh-taste Belgian startup was founded in 2018.
TRIP: London-based beverage startup TRIP is a CBD brand that sells wellness products infused with adaptogens. Its team of 36 people is trying to bring to consumers a new way of relaxing and calming during everyday stress and chaos. Trip beverages are healthy and aim at improving the physical and mental wellness of their consumers. The drinks are all vegan, gluten-free and free of added sugar. It was founded in 2018 it has raised €22 million.
Pentire Drinks: Based in Cornwall, Pentire Drinks is a green beverage company that produces botanical, non-alcoholic spirits. The Pentire team is trying to bring non-alcoholic alternatives in a more sustainable and natural way, using only botanicals, herbs and ingredients coming from their local area. Their ingredients make it possible to have a tasty and high-quality product, due to a combination of favourable climate, soil pH, and air moisture. It was founded in 2019 and it has raised €3 million.
REBO: Geneva-based REBO, is producing a smart bottle that helps to clean the planet and to reduce poverty as its users drink from it. For every REBO drunk, they record a credit into the blockchain and monetize them through sponsors. The funds go to an organization that pays people in underprivileged communities in emerging countries to collect ocean-bound plastic waste, paying a “Social Plastic” premium rate to ensure them a consistent and liveable income. REBO’s team of 13 employees also developed an app that helps people to stay hydrated through regular reminders to drink water. It was funded in 2019.
Kumasi: Amsterdam-based Kumasi was founded in 2021 with the aim to introduce consumers to cocoa juice, an alternative and new product that will fascinate people and also will fight food waste and poverty in the cocoa sector. During the harvest of the cocoa beans, this juice flows into the earth, becoming a waste. Because to make chocolate, just cocoa beans are needed. But for Kumasi teams of 7, the fruit pulp and the juice that can be made out of that is the most interesting part. In this way, they fight the waste of an exclusive and delicious product and are able to offer farmers in Ghana an extra source of income.
Dropz: Swiss startup Dropz is trying to bring healthy alternatives for those who don’t like the “bland” taste of water and neither the full-of-sugar sodas. The startup is producing a tablet full of taste and vitamins that consumers can drop into their water to add flavour and function while drinking. A tablet that strives to eliminate single-use plastic (PET bottles) and comes with no sugar or calories. Its team of 7 people is creating the flavours from fruits and herbs, through careful extraction and high-quality raw materials. It was founded in 2020 and it has raised a total amount of €2.7 million.
Kooky: Zurich-based Kooky is working to create a smart infrastructure for reusable food packaging. It is a digital cup smart system that offers its customers the possibility to dispose of reusable cups on their way in an easy and sustainable way through kooky boxes. Consumers order their drink as usual and get it in a Kooky cup. When they return the cup in a kooky drop-off box, they will immediately get their deposit credited to the wallet of their app. Kooky is fighting against plastic waste, trying to bring a sustainable way of reducing our footprint through bevtech. It was founded in 2021 hitting a total amount of €6 million since then.
CleanCo: London-based CleanCo is bringing NOLO (low and no alcohol) to the market. Its team of 27 is providing drinks for consumers who are looking to moderate their alcohol consumption and who care about their wellness, without compromising on the taste. The average person spends 252 Hours a year hungover, CleanCo is trying to bring more awareness to people, aiming at giving a clean life to their consumers. Founded in 2019 it has raised €10.5 million.
NICE Drinks: Founded in the UK, this is a wine company that offers sauvignon blanc, pale rosé, and other high-quality wines in cans. Its team of 22 is now introducing the NICE Wine on a tap mobile bar. This innovative wine startup is bringing a more sustainable and different way of enjoying moments daily with their cans 100% recyclable forever. It was founded in 2019.
Northern Wonder: This Dutch startup focuses on producing coffee from non-tropical ingredients trying to have a positive impact on the environment. As the global demand for coffee increases, so do coffee plantations, destroying rainforests. As food technologists succeed more and more in making meat without animals, its team of 9 is trying to make coffee without beans, utilizing only local ingredients. This Ede-based startup is trying to bring more awareness and fight for more sustainable coffee. Founded in 2021 it has raised €1 Million.
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