Ultra-local botanicals have emerged as a signature for brands looking to be authentically rooted in a culture or geographic region. However, a number of brands are now working with local communities, too, in a bid to be more responsible in their sourcing practices.
Whether it’s in limited-edition versions of global brands or niche, region-specific launches, using ingredients from a specific place can help brands to convey their brand story, or tap into and address larger consumer concerns such as sustainability, fair labour practices and the environment.
The Amazon rainforest is a good example here, with the destruction of the forest being increasingly featured in the news. A number of brands have aligned themselves with the region, creating Amazon-specific launches. By working with local communities, brands are able to support sustainable employment for the people that rely on the forest and give back to environmental charities working to save or replant in the region. They are also tapping into heightened consumer awareness and concerns, offering a product that seems to give consumers the ability to make their own contribution to the cause.
Indigenous ingredients can also offer intrigue and differentiation in a crowded drinks market, with ever more nuanced flavours that tell their own story. And it’s a trend that is extending into soft drinks, too.
Canaïma Gin, named after Canaïma National Park, located in the Venezuelan state of Bolivar in Amazonia, is made using botanicals sourced from indigenous communities. The producers behind Diplomático Rum deliberately created the new gin using relatively unknown ingredients: according to the brand, “3,000 fruits are found in the rainforest; only 200 are known by most”. Those chosen include merey (cashew), uva de palma (moriche palm fruit), túpiro fruit, seje palm fruit, and copoazú. The botanicals are macerated and distilled individually, with the gin produced in small batches of 500 litres. The brand has also committed to giving 10% of sales to support the work of NGOs and networks of volunteers that protect and preserve both the local environment and local communities.
In Australia for example – where the environment is shaped by its isolation and varied climates, from desert to tropical forest – it is estimated that there are around 24,000 species of native plants; botanical soda maker Bickford and Sons adds the Davidson plum – also known as orray, and native to Australia’s tropical regions, such as northern New South Wales – to its sparkling apple cordial.
And while some products use ingredients that can be found the world over, they’re nonetheless supporting local workforces by choosing to source locally.
South African brand Lubanzi Wines has launched a canned wine range in the US, said to be about “portability, sustainability and going where bottled wines simply can’t”. Previously launched in South Africa in 2016 as the country’s “first canned wine”, Lubanzi’s canned offerings are available in two variants: Chenin Blanc and Red Blend.
Operating as a social enterprise as well as a business, Lubanzi was founded in 2016 by Walker Brown and Charles Brain. It says that its aim is to help and create a more sustainable and equitable supply chain, and share its profits with non-profit organization The Pebbles Project, which provides health and educational resources to those who provide labour on South African farms.
Indian rum maker, Wild Tiger Beverages, positioned as “quintessential Indian”, has built its brand and marketing around the sourcing of its 23 botanicals, providing details of the specific region each comes from. Though none are specifically indigenous to India, the country is a major agricultural hub for herbs and spices. According to Founder Gautom Menon, “India is the botanical capital of the world; no other gastronomy uses as many spices as Indian cuisine does.” Brands can no longer claim to represent a country or a region without backing it up through being transparent about their sourcing and production.
To read more about some of the most interesting brand launches featuring indigenous ingredients, access the IWSR’s Radius Innovation Tracker. This online database tracks the latest product launches and consumer trends driving the market.
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