Putting an innovative and approachable spin on an established niche health drink, Dallas, Tex.-based Mother Beverage swept to victory on Tuesday in the 12th edition of BevNET Live’s New Beverage Showdown in Santa Monica, Calif. on the strength of its organic fruit and herb-infused apple cider vinegars.
Husband and wife team Stephen and Allison Ellsworth head back to the Lone Star State with $10,000 in cash and prizes, along with a strong vote of confidence from the Showdown’s panel of esteemed judges, after a comprehensive presentation at the end of the competition’s final round sealed the win.
Mother impressed the judges across a range of criteria, including packaging, concept, taste, scalability and even a compelling back story. Kim Paige, vice president of marketing and innovation at Coca-Cola VEB and a professed fan of apple cider vinegars, lauded the drink, which contains no sugar and 5 to 10 calories per bottle, for managing to “tap into global ancient wisdom in a modern way” while retaining a simple and clear brand message aimed at health conscious consumers. Nicole Fry, Managing Partner at First Beverage Group, commended the Ellsworths for showing commitment to the concept by building a new facility for small-batch production even as the brand remains in its nascent stage.
BevNET founder and CEO John Craven praised Mother’s intriguing flavor combinations, such as Blueberry Sage and Grapefruit Mint. Meanwhile, Greg Fleishman, co-founder of Purely Righteous Brands, noted that the glass soda bottle gave the impression of a sparkling fruit juice, and advised clearly stating how much apple cider vinegar each drink contains on the label to create greater visual distinction for consumers.
The assessment from Ken Sadowsky, a Senior Beverage Advisor at Verlinvest with a renowned track record for spotting hot emerging beverage brands, seemed to herald great things ahead: “It’s ready for the evolution in beverage right now.”
Speaking with BevNET after their win, Stephen and Allison Ellsworth, who started the company by experimenting with formulations in their home kitchen, echoed the judges feelings about the importance of packaging. “We want to have an overall clear and simple message on the package, but still have enough information” for consumers to understand the unique offering, Stephen said. The couple plans to use the prize winnings to make improvements to Mother’s facility and better streamline the production process.
“We see the value of our branding and our story,” Allison said. “We want to make people seek us out.”
Mother defeated a strong crop of contenders that emerged from from yesterday’s semifinal round for the top prize, including Sunniva Super Coffee, a protein-infused java smoothie, adaptogen-powered vitality drink Immordl, and locally based Venice Cold Brew coffee. Atlanta-based 1821, makers of ginger beer and tonic formulated specifically for creating cocktails, and organic juice-sweetened ice tea brand Shaka rounded out the pack.
And while only one could be crowned as champion, Sadowsky noted that all the participants in New Beverage Showdown 12 showed great potential for future growth. “I see an opportunity for any of the finalists,” he said.
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