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At long last, the chill has left the air and we can all start to look forward to summer and its associated culinary pleasures, from picnics and barbecues to outdoor get-togethers and a chilled glass of something special in the garden. Summer 2022 is doubtless looking a little different to the past couple of summers; with no restrictions in sight retailers and consumers alike are delighted to return to ‘normality’ – which means that right now, the time is ripe to add some fizz to your summer drinks selection.
We all know that sales of white and rose wines will rise, as will those of lighter-flavoured beers and fruity ciders, but what’s new for 2022 is the focus on simple DIY-style options, drinks with health benefits – and the great taste needed to back them up – and beverages showcasing the three musts of the fine food shopper: quality, heritage and provenance.
For quintessentially British beverage company Belvoir, the start of summer heralds elderflower season, which provides a bounty of the brand’s arguably most iconic ingredient – and offers retailers with a simple and delicious step into the foraging trend. “For almost 40 years we’ve been creating premium cordials and sparkling drinks on our family farm, all born from working closely with nature, respecting the countryside and supporting sustainable farming,” begins Pev Manners, managing director of Belvoir.
“Seasonality goes hand in hand with the production cycle and summer is our busiest time, where the annual elderflower harvest gets underway from late May. It’s one of our most important events on the calendar, when our entire team and local community come together to collect elderflower, and it’s where the business first started.” Elderflower used to spill over into the garden and, hating to see anything go to waste, Pev’s mother and father – John and Mary Manners – hit on the idea of transforming it into pure fruit cordials free of additives. This classic cordial is still made to Mary’s original recipe, along with almost 30 other delicious soft drinks sold across the UK and around the world.
Perfect for summer occasions
“Our new low-calorie Botanical Sodas in three interesting flavour profiles are perfect for summer entertaining, either to drink as an alcohol alternative or to mix with spirits and into cocktails,” begins Pev. “Floral Fizz makes a great non-alcoholic alternative to a floral G&T, Bitter Orange Spritz delivers an invigoratingly bitter and citrusy orange sparkling drink inspired by Mediterranean-style aperitifs, or swap a traditional Dark & Stormy for aromatic Spicy Ginger Fizz.”
Of course, 2022 is the year of the Jubilee, which offers a raft of opportunities for fine food retailers. “Perfect for this year’s Jubilee street party and garden party celebrations, we’ve designed two limited edition ‘Best of British’ bottles to mark the occasion,” says Pev. “Add a splash of Elderflower Cordial to summer dessert recipes, cocktails and mocktails, or on top of beer for a refreshing Elderflower Top. Ready to drink Sparkling Elderflower over ice makes a cooling long drink on its own or mix with Prosecco for bubbles with a floral twist.
“Meanwhile, for mocktail and cocktail lovers, Passionfruit Martini, J&T and Peach Bellini are all deliciously alcohol-free to enjoy on their own, but are also equally delicious mixed with a favourite spirit or as a cocktail component.”
Inspired by kitchen gardens
A truly versatile seasonal drink is the workhorse of the summer drinks trolley, and this is something that ever-popular drinks company Cawston Press has in spades. With a heritage dating back to 1986 and a focus on producing delicious drinks inspired by the kitchen garden, its range is ideally positioned for conscientious thirsty shoppers. “All our drinks are made from real ingredients with no added sugar, no sweeteners, no concentrates – just simple fresh pressed juice,” explains Andy Hope-Johnstone, channel manager – out of home – at Cawston Press. “Where a lot of other drinks brands take shortcuts using additives and concentrates, we choose to keep a clean set of ingredients which helps ensure we give people the best tasting drink we can.”
These credentials suit today’s consumer perfectly, and mean the range sits comfortably alongside other carefully considered products on Speciality Food readers’ shelves. “There is a clear signal from consumers that they are after quality in both their food and drinks,” agrees Andy. “As a premium soft drink our range sits so well among all the other incredible food independent delis and food halls offer. If you’re focusing on bringing the best the UK food industry has to offer, you have to support it with a quality drinks range.”
Cawston Press’s delicious Sparkling Rhubarb is the business’s “hero” drink – “once you try it you can see why,” says Andy – with an intense, fruity rhubarb nose, slight sweetness and the addition of apple juice to sweeten and balance the rhubarb’s acidity. The website offers a range of recipe ideas to inspire customers to experiment with it (as well as other Cawston Press favourites), including Rhubarb Spritz, and Rhubarb & Gin.
While its one-litre ambient juice range has long been popular with the speciality food and drink sector, the business has recently launched tomato and orange juices to add diversity to retailer shelves, while its kids-friendly cartons are the ideal option for out-and-about enjoyment throughout the warmer months. Soon to launch are Cawston Press’s 750ml sharing bottles - “a must for summer,” according to Andy.
By offering a selection of ‘ingredient’ drinks products – those which can be enjoyed either as is or combined with other drinks to make a cocktail, either alcoholic or non – plus catering for those customers who plan to consume their drinks away from home, perhaps in an alfresco setting, you can help your establishment become a valuable source for discerning shoppers looking for delicious refreshment this summer.