The biggest question for drinking vinegar is probably the most obvious one: how do you get people to buy it?
Although American consumers have increasingly shown a willingness to try exotic-tasting foods and beverages, and embraced those products formulated with natural, functional ingredients (see: coconut water), the notion of drinking vinegar would seem to play on a plateau so high that few are willing to make the leap.
It’s a dilemma that is constantly on the mind of Dylan Myers, who is the Operations Manager at Naam Som LLC, which produces Pok Pok Som Drinking Vinegar. Developed at and named for the critically acclaimed Pok Pok restaurant, whose location in Portland, Ore. is often lauded for its authentic and innovative brand of Northern Thai cuisine, the product is a fruit-infused vinegar concentrate, with fresh fruit macerated in cane vinegar and resulting liquid sweetened with cane sugar.
Pok Pok Som comes in nine varieties, including a few uniquely flavored ones such as its Thai Basil, Chinese Celery and Turmeric. The shelf-stable concentrates are packaged in 16 oz. apothecary-style glass bottles with a black screw top and are priced around $15.
While presented as a digestif, Pok Pok Som, for the most part, shies away from any other perceived functionality associated with drinking vinegar, noting on its website that “we do not make any claims as to the health benefits of our product.” It’s a position that, while inoculating the brand from potential legal liability, can be limiting as to how and where the products can be most effective at retail.
For Myers, Pok Pok Som’s roots as mixer (at the restaurant from which it was born, the concentrate has long been used to create soft drinks and cocktails) currently present the best opportunity for the brand.
“That’s kind of the biggest challenge we have right now, is figuring out where it goes,” Myers said. “For right now, the mixer category is pretty good. It’s one less step for consumer education. When they’re in the mixer set, they know it needs to be diluted with something.”
In this video, BevNET CEO John Craven spoke in depth with Myers about the company sales and marketing strategy, as well its innovative flavor line-up and how the range fits the goals of being a “delicious and refreshing” beverage brand. Myers also discusses where Pok Pok Som has made its biggest impact at retail and what’s next in terms of distribution for the product.