The idea for Super DC was born out of the darker moments of lockdown in Spring 2020.
We had come back from the International organic trade show Biofach in Germany in February, and there was a clear sense of impending global change and disruption. Whole country zones of the show were absent, stands empty, signs were telling people to avoid shaking hands and masks, previously a rare sight was prevalent. We were on the brink of pressing go on some mixer variants of our most popular soft drinks – printing 450,000 cans and getting the wheels turning on production.
We paused the project as the timing seemed to present an unnecessary risk with what appeared to be a very chill wind blowing our way.
Friend and investor Josh had asked if we could recreate one of our fruit drinks with two grams of vitamin C: he was planning what was to be the only festival that went ahead in the UK in 2020 (Medicine Festival) and wanted to give festival-goers some immune support.
Craig Sams, our chairman, had also been lunching with an old friend Patrick Holford. They had been talking about the gaping hole in the market for a product that supports the immune system at a time when a robust immune system was getting ever more linked to health and, dare we say, survival.
I had a lab full of fruit concentrates, vitamins and plant extracts and at the beginning of May started formulating a pair of drinks that could answer the immune support call.
The Super DC challenge really hit our development sweet spot; we love the functional category not least because the major players have products on the market that we strongly believe fail some basic tests: low levels of functional ingredients, using artificial sweeteners and preservatives (which just seems perverse when you are working in the realm of wellbeing) and across the board, really poor flavour profiles.
At the beginning of May 2020, we had the concept secure, twice your daily vitamin D requirements in a can, two grams of vitamin C, 50% your daily vitamin A and Zinc requirements, 100% Folic acid and vitamin K and a lovely collection of plant extracts and juices that include elderberry juice and extract, acerola cherry, white mulberry and blackcurrant juice.
We went heavy on the anthocyanins and created two fruit-sweetened sparkling drinks, a blood orange sweetened with white grape and blackcurrant and elderberry sweetened with apple juice. Flavours that we all naturally associate with wellbeing, the delicious, refreshing tang of blood orange and the comforting hedgerow embrace of elderberry and blackcurrant. Our blood orange flavour is 46% juice, our blackcurrant and elderberry is 39%. Both drinks are less than 60 calories a can.
Flavour has always been central to the Gusto proposition and with Super DC we wanted to create the finest vitamin powered drinks that delivered on ‘delicious’. A drink that could be served in a glass for breakfast at an elegant café or grabbed and glugged from a service station to give a vitamin lift to your day. Working with Elderberry juice and the extract was particularly satisfying, Hippocrates described elderberry as ‘natures medicine chest’, Elderberries have twice the Vitamin C of oranges and three times the antioxidants of blueberries. They are high in polyphenols and bioflavonoids. Getting back to the hedgerow on this project just felt like the right route for consumers who care about ingredients, provenance and what’s inside the can.
From a concept born in Spring, we are launching Super DC in the UK, France, Netherlands and Spain in October. We have had to move fast and focus at a uniquely challenging time, whether it was measuring ingredients in my kitchen with three small children tugging at my trouser leg or running a test production in Leicester at the height of local lockdown.
What we have created are two exceptional drinks, free from refined sugar, low in calories and delivering a hefty vitamin bump to your day at a time when a well-functioning immune system should be a part of everyone’s survival strategy.
William Fugard CEO / Founder/beverage creator Gusto Organic Ltd.