Sodastream looking to clink glasses with beer partners
Chief executive Daniel Birbaum says the beer venture is ‘just a hobby’.
Sodastream is looking to lock down a beer partnership that will help shake up the home brewing market and push its carbonated water machines into a growing number of homes across the UK.
Chief executive Daniel Birnbaum told the Press Association the Israeli company is in discussions with potential partners that will help roll out beer concentrates to pair with its machines in the next 12 months.
“We’re talking to some beer partners, actually, globally, because we’d rather launch with a beer brand rather than enter that alcohol category.
“We want a partner’s brand on this thing and also their supply chain.
“We’re waiting for the announcement on our partner, and then we’ll take it from there.”
It comes after test trials in countries including Germany, Switzerland and Austria, which saw Sodastream offer concentrates that create a 5% lager with its machines, which use gas cylinders to carbonate regular tap water.
Mr Birnbaum said the move could open up opportunities in a number of markets where beer consumption is high, including Germany, Australia, the US, Canada and the UK.
“It’s a lot quicker and easier and of a high-quality product to do home brewing with Sodastream than it is to go ahead and do your own existing home brewing the way you do it right now,” he said.
He stressed that sparkling water continues to be Sodastream’s bread and butter, while ventures into beer are just “a hobby”.
The Israel-headquartered firm has its roots in early 20th century Britain, and is trying to revive interest in the UK where household take-up is lagging behind its 1970s heyday when penetration was around 50%, Mr Birnbaum said.
“There’s a lot of fond memories here. If you grew up in the UK, typically anyone who’s over 30 or 35 will remember Sodastream as a child … the awareness here is north of 80%, so that’s a good thing.”
He said he is aware that consumers are more concerned about household finances as a result of the Brexit vote, particularly following the pound’s collapse which has made everyday goods more expensive for shoppers.
But while the company was forced to raise its UK prices by around 10% in January, Mr Birnbaum said Sodastream would not be shifting any of its focus away from the UK, even if Britain and Israel – where its machines are manufactured – fail to strike a free trade agreement.
“We’re not guided by that kind of stuff anywhere in the world. We’re in 45 countries in the world and we don’t decide whether to be in a market because of a free trade agreement of the lack of. It’s not important.”
However, Mr Birnbaum said he does expect a deal to be struck.
“There is a free trade agreement between the European Union and Israel and that should continue regardless of Brexit. There’s no reason why not.”