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Real fruit vs natural flavours: what’s the difference?
We often get asked how we make our drinks, how we decide what goes in them and how they’re different from others available.
One way we’re different is having real fruit in our drinks instead of ‘natural flavours’.
What are natural flavours?
Natural flavours are flavouring agents. They’re produced by ingredient manufacturers and used by food and beverage producers to enhance the taste and colour of the products they make. They’re normally supplied as a liquid or powder and added as an ingredient into product recipes.
They’re used in a huge range of products: baked goods, dairy products, confectionery, nutritional supplements and beverages.
Natural flavours are designed to replicate flavours found naturally (ironic?). When it comes to sparkling water and hard seltzers, the ‘natural flavours’ being recreated are the flavours and colours from fruit.
An added bonus of using real fruit is you naturally get real fruit colour too, so nothing else needs to be added to make it look ‘natural’.
Natural flavours can be created from substances extracted from a huge range of plant or animal sources: spices, fruit or fruit juice, vegetables or vegetable juice, herbs, bark - yip, like tree bark - buds, root leaves, or other plant material, dairy products, fermented products, meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.
It’s all really quite clever.
We decided to use real fruit to flavour our drinks, and we reckon you can taste the difference.
How to tell if your drink uses real fruit or natural flavours.
Easy. Check the can.
If it says ‘natural flavour’ it’s from the lab. If it says ‘fruit concentrate', ‘fruit juice’ or ‘fruit pulp’, it’s a drink infused with real fruit.
Why is using real fruit better?
Early on in our recipe crafting days, we chose to use real fruit to flavour our drinks as we found it gave more depth and lasting flavour.
We worked with the Food Innovation Network to help us decide on which flavours to create first and how to get the flavour profile right, which involved plenty of mixing and sampling. We tried out a few natural flavour extracts, but these didn’t get past our taste testing panel, so we chose to go with real fruit as our key ingredient.
The Spinoff agreed that we’d nailed the taste. We took out the number one spot in The Spinoff’s seltzer blind taste testing.
How much fruit do you need to use?
We can’t share our top secret recipes with you, sorry. We can say that we order our fruit concentrates in drums that weigh up to 200 kgs, so the short answer is - a lot of fruit goes into each can.
What do Native Sparkling flavours taste like?
Lemon & Yuzu is our most popular flavour and what we’re most known for. The yuzu gives it hints of mandarin and grapefruit, and it’s got a sparkling zesty finish. You’ll be hard pressed to tell the hard sparkling from the alcohol-free sparkling water. Those with a real nose for it, reckon they can though.
Kiwifruit & Lime is our driest flavour. It has sweet hints of pineapple and banana, balanced with zesty kicks of kiwifruit and lime. Nice and crisp.
Berry & Blackcurrant is a perfect alternative to cider. It’s a touch sweeter than our other flavours with a burst of tart and sweet raspberries, balanced with the earthy and raisin-like flavours of blackcurrant. The lush real berry colours make it look pretty in pink in a glass.
Apple & Feijoa - the feijoa runs the show, rounded out by juicy, sweet apple juice. It has a refreshing and session-able sparkling fizz! And if you’re of a certain age, you’ll be reminded of the 42 Below’s classic ‘Falling Water’ - feijoa vodka mixed with Chi :)
Ummm, what is yuzu???
It’s pronounced ‘you-zoo’. It’s a Japanese citrus fruit that looks a bit like a big lemon and tastes like a cross between a mandarin and grapefruit. It’s yuzu that adds the extra citrus burst to our Lemon & Yuzu Hard Sparkling and Sparkling Water.
Try for yourself and let us know what you think. Always keen to hear what flavours you’d love to see us create!