The Alfresco soft drinks group has produced, by accident, its first aphrodisiac product.
The company is a specialist in lightly-carbonated drinks, which is generally in accord with the market trend suggested by the recent report from the British Soft Drinks Association.
"We're happy with the premise of a less aggressive form of carbonisation," says Alfresco's managing director Robin Sheppard. "The idea comes from 20 years ago, when I was involved in consulting on a Perrier-type drink, and I said ‘the bubbles are too big'.
"This is still true today - people want light carbonisation, which aids digestion, and which will also enhance a flavour. So, in the market where you want to pick up a drink with your sandwich, wrap or salad, the lightly-carbonated drink is the complement."
As other suppliers have remarked, customers now want to taste real fruit. Alfresco has tried to combine the familiar with the imaginative - cloudy orange, blood orange, and passionfruit are not seen everywhere.
"Without sounding too pompous, I've tried to add a certain excitement, because I want it to ‘perform' on the palate," says Sheppard. "It's not just ‘here's an orange drink'. Orange and lemon is a familiar blend, but a touch of mandarin to it does add piquancy.
"Blood orange has just a little more ‘rasp'. I tried the same drink without it, and it lacked that extra tickle. Passionfruit is a double-edged flavour - it's sweet and sharp, and too intense on its own, but drop it into something else and it's great.
"Ten years ago, these wouldn't have worked - today, the consumer is beginning to seek out all these superfruits they've heard about."
Alfresco has experimented with orange blossom and echinacea in what it considers a ‘country version' approach to soft drinks, using natural plants. Its ‘botanicals' feature elderberry and the like… and by mistake, working with damiana and gingko, strawberry, mango and cinnamon, the company created an aphrodisiac.
This has been named ‘G', as ‘the drink which hits the spot'!
"I wanted a natural energy drink. In making it, we discovered we had formed a drink which woke parts of us up, which was mildly amusing… and the first taste profile we made, we found was a very masculine taste, perhaps too much so.
"Not all British men liked it, because it wasn't sweet enough - but the Chinese love it. A glorious mistake!"
By Ian Boughton