The drinks entrepreneur, who recently received financial backing from Diageo’s Distill Ventures, exclusively outlined his plans for the brand ahead of The Morning Advertiser's (MA) Future Trends: Spirits event, where he will give the keynote speech in London on 3 October.
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A rise in consumer interest in the UK and overseas in alcohol-free drinks had led Branson to develop the botanical distilled liquid, which also made headlines in the US, he told MA.
“We get quite a lot of people writing in to us saying their Monday to Wednesday drink when they get in from work is a Seedlip and tonic,” he said.
“Consumers are looking for non-alcoholic drinks that aren’t sugary, boring or the standard orange juice. They want adult flavours.”
Like in the UK, US drinkers are turning to 'less, but better' alcohol choices, as the on-trade spirits category garners more consumer interest.
First to launch in the US
“We will be the first alcohol-free spirit to launch in the US, as far as I am aware,” continued the spirits entrepreneur, who is a teetotaller.
“There’s a shipment of Seedlip heading to the US right now, we got a lot of coverage in the press in the US when we launched – the Wall Street Journal picked us up.
“Americans are a few years ahead of the UK when it comes to alcohol-free and I think that’s why there has been interest in Seedlip over there. We’ve had lots of Americans buy it from our website.”
As well as launching the brand in the US, Branson is working on a new limited release variant for the UK market.
The product will be available in the UK soon, but Branson, who grows the botanicals for Seedlip on his family’s 300-year-old farm, refused to give away any details.
Seedlip’s warm welcome into the UK market resulted in the need to develop a limited-release product, explained Branson.
“We’ve had an overwhelming reaction to Seedlip in the UK, despite only being 10 months old,” he said. “I can really see this category taking off and there is more room for other brands too.
“For consumers and bars looking to create non-alcoholic cocktails, there’s no choice when it comes to a base ingredient, despite the amount of conversation around the rise in non-alcoholic products.”
For instance, global beer giant ABV InBev recently predicted non-alcoholic beer would account for 20% of its sales by 2020 in line with its ‘Global Smart Drinking Goals’.
He said: “Spirits and cocktail sales in the UK on-trade are just rising and I can’t see that stopping, but alcohol-free isn’t represented here.
“In 10 years’ time, I hope to be able to go into a good cocktail bar and see 10 really well-made alcoholic cocktails and 10 really well-made non-alcoholic cocktails.”
Branson will be speaking at MA’s Future Trends: Spirits event on 3 October in London’s Royal Institution.
Other speakers at the event include representatives from CGA Strategy, Euromonitor International, Diageo and Schweppes.
Event partners include headline sponsors Diageo and Schweppes, associate partners Pernod Ricard UK and the WSET and bar partners City of London Distillery, Masons, Slingsby and Warner Edwards.