That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane speaks to Edwyn Siney of Brew Water.
Edwyn Siney is a young, energetic entrepreneur who quit his secure job during the Covid-19 pandemic to start his own business.
The UCD dairy business graduate vacated his role in Glanbia as a production shift manager, which he held for over twenty-four months, earlier this year.
He told That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, that he has “always looked to find problems that people were willing to pay money to fix them”.
“I get a great thrill from searching for ideas and problems that need solving. Selling sweets out of my school locker and cutting lawns were my earliest ventures that taught me the art of providing a product or service that people were happy to pay for.”
After attaining his undergraduate degree, he also worked in the meat industry as a new graduate. This industry experience enabled him to develop adaptable skills and gain knowledge that laid Brew Water’s foundations.
“Ultimately, I had that itch to start something myself. I felt my time in Glanbia had come to an end where I was not developing as fast as I would have liked. I am not one to stay in lane and serve your time.”
“The journey started in August 2020 when looking for a flavoured drink without a list of ingredients as long as my arm. The terms ‘added flavours’ and ‘added colours’ bugged me as it was not made clear what these ingredients were.”
“So, I decided to strip it back to its simplest form; a flavoured drink with real ingredients. I cut up a lot of fruit and rested glasses in the fridge, much to the dismay of my mother; she is very patient!”
Brew Water is an Irish-made flavoured water that results from just two ingredients; real fruit and Irish spring water.
The 29-year-old from Ballinakill, Co Laois, worked on the concept of flavoured water for some time before the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the pandemic gave him “the push to say you know what? just go for it”.
“You can get a job in the morning if this venture fails. But won’t you be so annoyed with yourself if someone else creates the product and you end up becoming a customer?”
Process and flavours
HACCP, manufacturing processes and documentation, which he learned about in previous roles, are all “critical” learnings that he can “easily” apply to Brew Water’s daily process.
He sources water from Glencar in Sligo and fruit from a distributor in Cork.
To begin the production process, real fruit is cut and brewed in Irish spring water, which colours and flavours the water. Fruit is removed, and the flavoured water is canned.
“Unlike others, we do not use fruit from concentrate or any added colours, flavours, sweeteners, preservatives or stabilisers which are highly processed and come in powder, sludge and pellet form.”
“Our process is unique, simple and gives you the real colours and flavours of fruit which is missing from other flavoured waters due to their ingredient profile.”
“The used fruit is donated back to farmers who allow it to degrade into fertiliser to spread on the land.”
He uses aluminium cans as the business desires to remove the reliance on single-use plastic bottles. Siney utilises cardboard boxes to transport cans instead of slip sheet plastic.
“These decisions, along with using real ingredients, have reduced our profit margin. However, I felt it was important to use them to make a real product with real ingredients and to be as eco as possible.”
“I produce the drinks. Food production is my speciality. I considered outsourcing, but many processors did not want to work with real fruit and were only used to working with powders, pellets and sludges.”
“By making the product, I can control the quality and develop new flavours.”
Brew Water comes in a berry still version currently; strawberry, blackberry & raspberry flavour.
He also has a mango and pineapple still version launching in December. Trials have begun on the sparkling range, which he hopes to unveil in early 2022.
Target market, cost and availability
His target market is the conscious health consumer seeking a “real” flavoured drink with clear transparent ingredients and processes.
Brew Water is available in stores across Leinster and Munster. You can also find products in filling stations, grocers and cafes, with a full list of stockists on its website.
“They cost €2.30. Real ingredients and sustainable packaging mean our input costs are high, but these were important non-negotiables when creating the product and the brand.”
The Laois man sold his first case on June 16th, 2021 and is selling a “steady” stream weekly.
Competition and unique selling points
Brew Water has been unable to do in-store tastings due to Covid-19. However, he hope to undertake tastings soon to grow the brand’s awareness and the product.
“Once customers taste it, they get it; it is flavoured water without added ingredients.”
“We use real ingredients, have a transparent process and utilise sustainable packaging, which leads to a flavour profile of real fruit in Irish spring water.”
“Furthermore, we do not use fruit from concentrate or added colours, flavours, sweeteners, preservatives or stabilisers which come in powders, sludges and pellet forms.”
“We are completely transparent with the process, giving you a real flavour and colour profile. It’s a first of its kind product on the market!”
“Having real experience from the food industry helped me with the creating of Brew Water. That, coupled with long days of researching and developing the product and brand, has gotten me to the shop shelves.”
Challenges and satisfaction
However, the 29-year-old admitted that establishing your own business is no easy feat with “huge peaks and troughs of huge peaks and troughs of emotion”.
But, for him, the positives outweigh the negatives and “nothing beats the feeling of securing a new listing or getting messages on social media enjoying the product”.
“Those small wins make the early mornings and rollercoaster of emotions worthwhile,” he added.
“I enjoy making new batches weekly, seeing the product on the shelves and customers enjoying the drinks. Customer satisfaction and filling that need for a real flavoured water are what keep me going.”
He acknowledged it is a competitive market and cited competing against well-known brands as “a battle”.
However, he believes that building brand awareness and brand loyalty is a journey that starts with making an “honest and unique” product consistently.
On the back of this, he is of the view that the Covid-19 pandemic has altered consumers’ eating habits.
He feels consumers have focused more on ingredients’ profiles and identifying what is healthy versus perceived healthy.
“Customers want to know what they are consuming. There’s a seismic shift away from sugary drinks, which has created this gap of offering a truly natural and transparent product.”
Brew Water will continue to grow its product offering with new flavours in 2022 along with a sparkling range.
“The ultimate goal is to become the flavoured water of choice to the consumer,” Siney explained.
“The beauty of being packaged in aluminium cans and cardboard boxes is that I can export this product.”
“I am hoping to get the support of Bord Bia to investigate the potential market opportunities that might be available for Brew Water as an Irish-made flavoured water brand internationally.”
“Developing and creating the product and brand has been an exciting journey that was supported and helped by my Local Enterprise Office.”
“There have been long days, sleepless nights, small wins and big setbacks with developing this product and brand. However, ultimately, I can see the need for a real flavoured water on the marketplace.”
“When I see a happy customer walking out of their local store with a can of Brew Water in their hand or a re-order from that store, that feeling is what keeps the dream alive.”
“For anyone who is thinking of starting their own business, my advice would be to validate your idea first; make a trial batch, test your product or service on people you do not know.”
“Make connections with people who might help you in the future, and do not be afraid to dream big,” he concluded.
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