India’s non-tippler population has my attention: Ben

India’s non-tippler population has my attention

The mission of Ben Branson, Founder of Seedlip and Æcorn Drinks, is two-fold: solve the dilemma of ‘what to drink when you’re not drinking’, and continue his family’s 300 years of farming heritage. The world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits and aperitifs are now available in more than 30 cities across continents.

Ben was awarded ‘Young Achiever of The Year’ by Drinks Business, and he continues to pioneer the non-alcoholic category forward with the launch of Æcorn Drinks in 2019. Excerpts from an exclusive interview with Brews&Spirits:

As a sophisticated adult option, what age and sex demographic does Seedlip cater to?

Seedlip distilled non-alcoholic spirits are for those people who aren’t drinking alcohol for whatever reason. They are looking for something that is adult and complex, rather than fruity and sweet.

Typically this is people aged between 25 and 55 years, male or female, who are moderating their alcohol consumption, appreciate flavour, quality and good food and drink.

Would you guess the percentage of people in a bar drinking Seedlip who might be teetotallers?

The number of teetotallers is still small, but growing rapidly. Our belief is that, regardless of why you are not drinking alcohol, you should have access to a non-alcoholic option that is a positive experience and doesn’t treat you like a child. Seedlip and tonic in a nice glass, with lots of ice and a considered garnish is something to sip and not feel left out!

What impact has the Covid-19 pandemic had on the adult soft drinks market?

Seedlip is the world’s leading non-alcoholic spirit and we are available in over 35 countries, including India, which is very exciting. The category is growing very quickly and the last 12 months have seen our momentum increase no doubt.

Can you expand on the mention of ‘NoLo’ that we read about on your website?

In 2018 we held 20 events in 20 of the world’s leading cocktail bars in 20 cities over the same two nights, showcasing over 100 different no- and low-alcohol cocktails, all using Seedlip.  It was amazing to see the quality of the drinks, the creativity and the response.

Grove, Spice and Garden. What’s next in the series?

Seedlip has its three products and in 2019 we launch a range of non-alcoholic Aperitifs called Æcorn, which I co-founded with Claire Warner. We are excited to be taking the brand to the US later this year and have launched a ready-to-serve NOgroni that uses both brands!

Seedlip is still just over 5 years old. From my kitchen to building our global footprint has been surreal in such a short time! I feel like the category is just getting started. People are only just starting to realise that there are better options available to drink when they don’t want alcohol.

What was your route to the market? How did you get bartenders to endorse or use your product?

I am incredibly proud that Seedlip is served in many of the best bars, restaurants and hotels around the world. Bartenders and chefs want people to have a great experience, they want people to feel good in their venues, and that means everyone – whether or not they’re drinking alcohol, whether or not they want to eat meat, whether or not they have allergies.

How important is the India market in your global scheme of things?

I lived in India for 9 months; it definitely holds a very special place in my heart. The people, the culture, the food, the colours, the smells, the architecture – is is all so rich in a feast for the senses. Some of our ingredients, like lemongrass, we source from India directly.

Plus, I’m a big cricket fan! So it’s important; but we are only just really starting and I think there is a big opportunity in the wedding and catering channel for Seedlip. There is also a large non-alcohol drinking population in India and so we are excited to build more presence in India!