Good Herb Soda - Gaining the confidence to go to market


15 December 2020

The challenge was to take the health benefits of cannabis and create a food product which improved wellbeing.

An immense amount of research, workshop and conference attendance and time spent with scientific and industry experts led the Good Herb Soda lads to focus on non-alcoholic sodas blended with a selection of natural botanical terpenes. These are a diverse class of organic compounds produced by plants, which have a calming or focusing effect. As expected, the selected terpenes are also found in cannabis strains.

Decision made – a drink it would be. The next expertise required was someone to hold their hand and take them from the idea stage, scale up into commercial production and then launch into the market – not an easy feat! The New Zealand Food Innovation Network was a natural choice, and the journey with the FoodBowl, a hub within the network, started.

Support, connections, attendance at workshops, trial production runs and a steep learning curve, saw their sodas hit the market. Ten months in and (despite the challenges of Covid-19) the team is looking at hiring more team members, adding new flavours and exploring export opportunities to the UK and Australia. Good Herb Soda won the non-alcoholic category in the 2020 NZ Artisan Awards, again validating how ‘right’ the Arjuns got it. Well done team!

Good Herb Soda is also poised to explore entirely new product ranges should the New Zealand cannabis legislation change. “Our first stop, if this happens, will be the FoodBowl. Every time we network with other businesses, we always guide them to the appropriate hub within the NZ Food Innovation Network – they make it easy to design, make, bottle and sell a new product.”

How the FoodBowl helped…

“We knew we needed a lot of help on how to make the product. We had done the research and had the knowledge – now we needed to make it real, and we wanted to get it right. Not just the production of a good product but all the technical, commercial and compliance aspects to taking a new product to market too,” says Arjun Bhargava.

“The help we got could not have been better. Working with the FoodBowl team gave us the confidence that we were doing the right things every step of the way. It was more complex than we had imagined, especially all the compliance. If we had of got it wrong, it would have been a high cost to go back and fix it.”

After taking on a food technologist and getting the recipe just right; it was back to The FoodBowl to take part in a number of highly relevant and industry focused workshops and then to run a trial production run. The drink was manufactured, bottled, labelled and taste tested. Good Herb Soda was ready to go to market. “The FoodBowl then worked with us to find contract manufacturers to make our sodas going forward.

“The help we got went way beyond the how; we were guided through the ins and outs of achieving good shelf life, labelling and the many compliance components needed on the label, they (and the team at Callaghan Innovation) connected us every step of the way with other appropriate experts when we need it.

“The FoodBowl has been instrumental in the creation of Good Herb Soda!”

The FoodBowl comment:

Business Development Manager, Al Baxter says they were able to work as a bridge between the bench scale formulation trials; growing them to the minimum order quantities required to move to a contract manufacturer. “Technically we knew we were able to help and working with such an innovative and different product was great. We were able to help the team through every step of the process from getting clarity around their vision, through implementation to where they should be positioned in the market and then onto having an actual product ready for sale. We used our contacts to introduce them to appropriate people for further help.”

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