Pete’s Natural Sodas continually grows in popularity and recognitions

An extraordinary run of success in the New Zealand Outstanding Food Producer Awards, amongst others, has cranked up demand for Motueka-based Pete’s Natural Sodas by 50% over the last two years, and that was without any further capital spending on the business in the interim.

Pete’s Natural was founded in Nelson 12 years ago by Pete and Marleen Suy, producing a range of lightly carbonised fruit sodas using only freshly squeezed local fruit and raw, organic Fair Trade sugar – and absolutely no overseas concentrates. About six years ago, the company moved to its Motueka premises.

“The awards mean a lot for us – we’re getting recognition for what we’re doing.”

Last year, Pete’s Natural won a gold medal at the Food Producer Awards for its Currant Crush, a blackcurrant soda, which was also named Champion Drink of the Year, and this year, its Pink Lemonade won another gold whilst the company’s Kola and Raspberry sodas won silver. To round off the recent haul of awards, Pete’s Natural Sodas won this year’s Nelson Chamber of Commerce’s 2 Degrees Small Business Award.

“The awards mean a lot for us – we’re getting recognition for what we’re doing,” Marleen says. “The responses from the judges are really positive, with many commenting that they like the balanced flavour that we’ve achieved in individual drinks and across the range without being too sweet. They also like the level of carbonation and the fact that it’s completely natural with no chemicals or nasties in it.”

Pete’s Natural Sodas will keep donating 20c to Heart Kids NZ for every bottle of Pink Lemonade sold in the market.

Typical of the praise Pete’s Natural Sodas attracted was that from the judges who described the 2023 winning Currant Crush as “sweet blackcurrant with balanced acidity; great colour, hop notes subtle; a very enjoyable drink.

At the peak of the season, the company consigns between 6,000 and 10,000 300-millilitre bottles a day in 15-pack cartons or crates. It produces a dozen flavours and is distributed by courier. Fizzy drinks, including Pete’s Natural Sodas, are subject to seasonal demand because people drink a lot more of them in the summer, not because of the seasonal nature of the fruit-growing industry. So Pete’s Natural buys up fruit from Nelson and beyond at harvest, squeezes it and what is not used immediately is frozen for the long off-season.

The Motueka solar-powered bottling facility employs eight staff and has plenty of room for expansion, which it will need as demand continues to rise and the brand’s recognition burgeons. Pete’s Natural Sodas boasts of producing sodas the traditional way, meaning that the entire range is free of additives, artificial preservatives, colours and flavours and is a clean and healthy alternative to traditional soft drinks. There’s also 30%-50% less sugar than comparable sodas, and flavours offered include Lemonade, Currant Crush, Pink Lemonade, Kola, Raspberry Kola, Lemon Chilli, Feijoa Lemonade, Ginger Beer, Lime-O-Nade and Sparkling Water.

In 2023, Pete’s Natural raised $12,000 for the Heart Kids NZ Foundation by creating a limited run of Pink Lemonade from which $1 was donated for every bottle sold. Because of its popularity, this flavour is being retained as part of the core range, and it will keep donating 20c a bottle to Heart Kids NZ.

© Waterford Press Ltd 2024 – Independent Print Media New Zealand

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