Whitewater bubbles with enthusiasm for export growth

Co Down’s Whitewater Brewery has invested £400,000 to develop a new range of vegan-friendly hard seltzers to drive export growth.

Castlewellan-based Whitewater Brewery Co. Ltd has invested over £400,000 in its business to develop a new vegan friendly range of Whitewater hard seltzers to capitalise on the growing demand for ready-to-drink products and help it drive exports.

In the last two years, the Co. Down brewery has grown its business in Sweden, Australia and Russia with its award-winning craft beers.

“Seltzers have seen phenomenal growth in the US market and we hope to be in the lead group of producers outside the US to capitalise on this growing trend”

Its new range of brewed and fermented hard seltzers are the first of its kind to be produced across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Brewing up an export storm

“Premixed and ready-to-drink cocktail-style drinks are gaining momentum globally, said Bernard Sloan, managing director of Whitewater Brewery.

“Recognising that our consumers have become more educated about the quality of ingredients, we wanted to create a new low calorie vegan friendly line focused on the use of natural flavours. Our new hard seltzers come in four flavour combinations and are brewed right here in Castlewellan, fermented from scratch and have no added artificial preservatives or sweeteners.

“Innovation and new product development are core to our business and we are the first brewery on the island of Ireland to launch a seltzer of this type. We wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without the support of Invest NI. The team there has been a real advocate, and has supported our business over a number of years. We have now launched Whitewater Hard Seltzer in Northern Ireland and our next steps include launching in Britain and to extend this to our existing export markets of Russia, Japan, Italy and France.

“Seltzers have seen phenomenal growth in the US market and we hope to be in the lead group of producers outside the US to capitalise on this growing trend,” Sloan added.

Invest NI has offered Whitewater support of £96,700 towards equipment and consultancy services to support the development and launch of the new hard seltzer product line. This follows support in 2018, towards the company’s new Co. Down manufacturing facility, which has enabled it to capitalise on the growing demand for speciality and craft beer. 

“Whitewater Brewery is an award-winning export focussed business which has experienced great success internationally,” said Invest Northern Ireland’s director of Food & Drink John Hood.

“The company recognises that to remain competitive, innovation is key and following research which has shown it that consumer demand for can and ready-to-drink products is growing rapidly, it approached Invest NI to see how we could support it to break into the ready-to-drink market.

“We have offered Whitewater support to install filling and packaging technology, which has helped it to expand its product offering and production capacity for its new line of ready-to-drink hard seltzers. This in turn is ensuring it is in the best position to capitalise on the major market opportunities that exist for hard seltzers in the UK, RoI and further afield.

“This investment is already leading to new contracts, most recently with Sainsbury’s and with its newfound packaging flexibility, it can tailor its product sizes to meet specific export market opportunities. I want to congratulate Bernard and his team and wish him every success in his new venture,” Hood concluded.

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 28 April 2021