AUSTRALIA – Japanese beverage giant, Asahi group has snapped up Australia-based adult soft drinks brand, Strangelove to bolster its premium no-alcoholic portfolio.

Founded in 2013, Strangelove produces a range of sparkling waters, low-calorie sodas, and premium mixers.

Strangelove is the brainchild of two Byron Bay locals, James Bruce and Stafford Fox, who sought to offer a more eclectic alternative to the stock-standard soft drinks with adult-oriented branding and premium packaging.

The range, which began with Organic Ginger Beer, Blood Orange & Chilli, and Bitter Grapefruit nine years ago, has now grown to more than doubled in volume and revenue.

Their range straddles the line between the teetotalers and the spirit swillers, tapping into the US$2.8 billion soft drink market while also riding the crest of the premium mixer category surging some 40% in the past three years.

The offerings have also expanded to 25 products including Tonic No. 8, “Lo-Cal Yuzu”, “Fancy Lemonade”, Double Ginger, and a range of premium sparkling waters.

Asahi CEO, Robert Lervasi, said: “It is clear Australians want more sophisticated and lower-sugar soft drinks, which has fueled demand for Strangelove’s amazing products in recent years.”

 “We expect Strangelove to shake things up in the on-premise premium mixer and adult soft drink space with a high-quality, Australian-made brand.

This deal will also strengthen our offer to retailers, which are dedicating more shelf space to premium non-alcohol beverages…We are thrilled to add Strangelove to the Asahi Beverages family.”

Gervasi added that Asahi Beverages is committed to expanding its offering in Oceania and continues to invest significantly in jobs, new products, and manufacturing.

Of the acquisition, which will not see any change to staff or operations at Strangelove, Bruce said joining the Asahi family is an exciting new chapter for the team after nine years.

Bruce expressed surety that with Asahi’s expertise and long-standing customer relationships in retail, hospitality, and beyond, the company will help grow Strangelove even more.

He also noted that the brand’s customers should not expect to see any change to the weird and whacky ways of Strangelove, since Asahi promises to retain the unique spirit and voice of the brand.

Asahi’s investment in Strangelove comes as its key categories are seeing strong growth with premium mixer sales increasing 40 percent in the past three years and adult soft drink sales up 65 percent, off a small base.

In addition, Australia is experiencing a tidal wave of shifted allegiance towards booze-free drinks that goes far beyond dry July; non-alcoholic beer alone makes up more than 1% of beer sales at the retail level and is expected to hit 2% by 2025.

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