When Berczy met Butter
As a little bit of background, I’ve been working with the guys and girls at Berczy since Summer 2019, and we even managed to get together for an afternoon of yoga, running and drinks in September before I shot off to Italy.
Founded by three like-minded friends – Nick, Nick and Matt – who like maintaining a balanced lifestyle of working hard, working out and catching up with friends and family. Let’s find out more about how it all began and the challenges they’ve faced along the way due to coronavirus.
First things first, I think quite a lot of people are probably wondering what ‘hard seltzer’ is? And what is in a can of Berczy?
That’s always a good place to start! Hard seltzer is an American term, the ‘hard’ part referring to the alcohol and the ‘seltzer’ part is what we call sparkling water. And the third part is fruit flavours because who wants to drink watered-down alcohol?
Hard seltzer was conceptualized by two mates in Boston whose wives drank sparkling water like it was going out of fashion. Launching the first hard seltzer in 2013 under the name ‘Spiked Seltzer’ it was a huge success. The company was later acquired and rebranded as Bon & Viv, which is still one of the largest corps in the US.
Our recipe is very clean and simple: made with ultra pure four-times distilled spirit, pure British sparkling spring water and real fruit flavours. Each flavour has 75 calories and 3.5 grams of sugar per 250ml can.
All our drinks are plant-based, as they are made with natural ingredients. We never add sugar, sweeteners or artificial flavouring. Our latest flavour, Passionfruit & Turmeric, has been a real hit. Keep your eyes peeled for our next exciting and curious flavour combinations.
Where did you come across this concept and what made you want to give it a shot?
Nick has family over in Canada so we decided to take a couple of weeks off to travel around the US and Canada together. It was everywhere, our first taste was in Toronto’s Berczy Park and we could see what all the hype was about. It was summertime and we’d been out and about all day, the light, fruity flavours and fizz were so tasty and refreshing.
We realised that everywhere we went, people were drinking hard seltzer. It really dawned on us how popular it was when we went into a liquor store in New Jersey and there were three entire aisles of hard seltzer. Multipacks stacked on top of each other, with brightly coloured packaging, and friends stocking up for the weekend.
We knew it was only a matter of time before it crossed the pond, so rather than moping in our post-holiday blues, we set about making our own plans for a clean and refreshing version of the drink.
You started your journey as NATRL, and recently rebranded to Berczy, why was that?
We initially launched in the first lockdown in June 2020 as one of the first British hard seltzer brands. Over the following months, the market grew crowded with well-known US hard seltzer brands, larger UK corporations, as well as smaller British indie brands too.
Everyone was going along a similar but slightly different path of white cans and a little storytelling. As our brand developed we managed to secure funding to become a global brand and the name NATRL was proving a little tricky worldwide.
We took the opportunity to strip it back and start from the beginning, and where we discovered hard seltzer. We wanted to stand out from the crowd with our branding and our three core values, that are the crux of Berczy:
Be real to the last drop: We only use the highest quality ingredients, and always aim to keep our drinks as low calorie and low in sugar as possible, without scrimping on the flavour.
Be good: It’s a promise we make in everything we do, good means: ingredients, taste, service and sustainability.
Be bold: We are innovative and won’t settle for less: we’re here to push boundaries.
We kept the same delicious recipes of our Peach & Raspberry and Lemon & Lime flavours, and recently launched our latest, boldest flavour: Passionfruit & Turmeric.
How have the ins and outs of lockdown impacted your business?
It’s been a strange time to launch our business. There have been countless articles about Brits consuming more alcohol during lockdown and we’ve seen our online presence grow remarkably. This has helped us really understand our customers and their interests. Opportunities in retail and wholesale are starting to pick up, but with constant pressures of lockdown, buyers are a lot more conscious than before.
I think in reality, the biggest challenge has to be educating British consumers about “hard seltzer”. Not only are we trying to showcase our brand, but also the category.
From selling online so far, who have you discovered like your drinks?
Our understanding of our clients is two-fold, we ran a survey in the summer with 2,500 respondents that gave us a useful insight, and we regularly receive feedback from our customers. The feedback tends to be positively unanimous about it being light and refreshing, the natural flavour and it being a low calorie option. Not to mention our free next day delivery, including Saturdays!
What’s visible in the data, is that there’s a clear move away from gin, beers and other pre-mixed cans towards lighter, less calorific drinks. This is particularly between those who keep active and eat moderately healthily.
I’d love to hear more about how you make your business as green as possible?
Our first aim is to always partner with brands, charities and people (like you), who care deeply about the environment. Through this we can raise awareness and educate people about how they can change small aspects in their day to day lives, and join us on our larger missions!
In September 2020, we organised a socially-distanced beach clean with a couple of other like-minded food and drink brands, and this January we were featured in the Sunday Times’ Green & Ethical Checklist. We spend a lot of time making sure that our compact supply chain here in the UK is running as sustainably and efficiently as possible, from the packing we use to the drivers, we all do our bit to reduce our footprint. We’re hoping to be B-Corp accredited by the end of this year too.
What does 2021 and beyond look like for Berczy?
We are looking to grow our presence across the UK this year with supermarkets and pubs being our number one priority. We’re launching in a range of delis, farm shops and garden centres this spring, and further growing our speciality and independent presence. We have also closed a seed investment from the US, which has helped us plan our expansion there for later this year.
We have our fingers crossed about being able to attend a number of food and drink events over the summer. Hopefully, we will be able to tell more people about Berczy, our sustainability initiatives and events with our ambassadors.
We’re really excited to see where the hard seltzer market will go this summer here in the UK, especially after the incredible growth in the US market. As ingredient provenance and exciting flavour combinations are becoming paramount for brands, let’s see where the innovation will take us!
Check them out here!
Don’t forget my latest book RUNNING THE WORLD is not only now AVAILABLE on Amazon, but it went to BEST SELLER. Wooo. Thanks everyone!!!