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No longer a niche beverage, kombucha can now be found in pubs, restaurants and mainstream supermarkets throughout the US, Canada and Australia. What’s the lucre future of kombucha? 1.8 billion USD globally by 2020, says the market.

Scotland's Left Field Kombucha
Scotland's Left Field Kombucha

Kombucha is a sweetened fermented tea that comes with a range of health benefits say fans. These claimed health benefits, coupled with the drink’s unique sour taste, are responsible for the kombucha craze amongst health-conscious consumers in many parts of the world. 

Demand for kombucha is growing here too, and there is great potential for the Scottish beverage industry to invest in this unique and flavoursome beverage. 

How it’s made 

Kombucha is made by a two-step fermentation of lightly sweetened green or black tea using a ‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast’ called SCOBY. At first, the sweetened tea containing SCOBY, ferments at room temperature for one to three weeks. In the second step, the drink is bottled for one to two weeks to build up CO2

Once ready, kombucha is stored in a chilled environment to slow down the carbonation and fermentation processes, and to change or improve the taste, a variety of flavours can be added to the fizzy drink. 

A health-boosting drink 

Kombucha is a non-alcoholic beverage that contains vitamins, amino acids, enzymes and nutrients. Due to the fermentation process involved in creating kombucha, it contains a large number of healthy bacteria known as probiotics. It's consumed as a functional, probiotic beverage, and its health benefits, many believe, range from detoxification, probiotic gut health and digestion, to joint health and immune-boosting properties. 

Many people see kombucha as an ideal healthy alternative to fizzy drinks. Sold in a range of different flavours, including original, ginger, ginger and lime, blueberry, watermelon, strawberry, coconut and mango, or infused with herbs and spices, there are plenty of opportunities to give kombucha a unique twist to satisfy a variety of palates.

So, with claims of potential health benefits, a unique sweet and sour flavour with light fizziness, and coming in a range of flavours, kombucha appeals to modern consumers, and differentiates itself comfortably from current beverage offerings. 

The market story of kombucha 

Kombucha’s exact origins are unknown, but it's said to date back to 221 BC China. Kombucha didn’t reach the US until the early 21st century and has only been in commercial production since 2015. 

According to the latest report from market research company, Technavio, the global kombucha market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15% between 2017 and 2021. The worldwide value of the kombucha market is estimated to increase up to 1.8 billion USD by 2020 (statista.com). 

Key players of kombucha in the US are GT’s Kombucha, Reed’s Inc., Hain Celestial Group, Kosmic Kombucha and Kombucha Wonder Drink. Whereas in the UK, Love Kombucha and Equinox Kombucha are currently available. 

Left Field Kombucha, which is pioneering kombucha manufacturing in Scotland, was a finalist at Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards last year, and is popping up in more retail outlets, aiding its availability to the Scottish drinks consumer. While Glasgow-based Clever Kombucha micro brew the tea in oak barrels.  

Scottish beverage business opportunities 

Kombucha as we've seen has become an influential player in the beverage economy, and opportunities for bringing it to the commercial beverage market in the UK are growing. 

There's great potential for the Scottish beverage industry to increase the number of kombucha products and add to the range of kombucha flavours available in Scotland and the rest of the UK market, as well as overseas. 

Is your future kombucha?

Want to understand more about kombucha and the soft drink industry in Scotland as a whole? If so, our innovation connectors are here to guide and support your Scottish food and drink business. 

Make Innovation Happen is a free, one-stop-shop for innovation support available to the Scottish food and drink industry. If you’re looking for support to become more innovative, or are working on something new or different that will add value to your business we can help. 

Whether it involves product development, your processes or employees, Make Innovation Happen lets you explore your ideas and develop them all the way through to market. 

Connect to our expert food and drink team today