Native Hard Sparkling: A Bubbly Story


“We take our hats off to you, Native Apple & Feijoa” is the The Spinoff magazine’s declaration of their top choice in a recent blind tasting of new to market, spirit-based RTDs.  Young brand Native have a lot to be proud of: taking an idea through to launch in less than a year, with the support of the FoodPilot at Massey University, Palmerston North.

Based on the growing popularity of ‘hard seltzers’ in the US, the idea stemmed from a similar concoction that they played around with and thought “this could be a real hit”. However, they had many unknowns: how do we commercialise, where do we source ingredients, what are the processing methods involved and what does the market want… where do we even begin? That starting point was daunting, until they approached the FoodPilot.

The choice of flavours was based largely on FoodPilot’s market research into popular trends but the FoodPilot also suggested introducing emerging, interesting flavours to shake things up a bit… yuzu, anyone? The FoodPilot worked closely with the Native team in terms of product development to ensure that the flavours were exactly what they wanted, within a couple of months, the products were nailed! These were then upscaled and kegged using equipment available at the Massey Microbrewery. The final step of the project was the nutritional analysis that was carried out on site at the Massey Nutrition Lab to obtain the nutritional information panel for the beverages.

The successful development of Native’s hard sparkling lies in the great relationship and trust they had with the FoodPilot. “A lot can be said about the support we have had to get to where we are now, however a key point to raise that comes from all 4 of the Native co-founders is that we always had confidence in the FoodPilot. It was new territory for us to cross, yet the FoodPilot and Massey were professional, easy to approach and collaborative with channelling our desires and ideas into a reality,” – Luke McBride – Co-owner of Native.

Today, their drinks range fulfils their original hopes of Good, Clean and Fun. Their products are clean – a stripped back alternative alcohol beverage made with real fruit, with no added sugars or fats. Their beverages are intended to be fun, exploring the much loved flavours of New Zealand and introducing exotic fruits from around the world as their range grows. The team believe in being good, so 10 % of Native’s profit goes towards protecting, sustaining and enhancing Native Species of NZ. All this with a mission to create a household name that the alcohol market can be proud of, “without sacrificing taste, by using real fruit and creating what we call a subtle, craft RTD,” says Luke.