Ginger up Business
2009 was the year that saw the MP’s expenses scandal break, the last Woolworths store close and the release of smash hit film, Slumdog Millionaire. It was also the year Crabbie’s launched its Alcoholic Ginger Beer, creating a drinks category that it has dominated ever since.
Consumer interest in ginger beer has extended into the non-alcoholic drinks sector too. Cott Beverages’ Old Jamaica dominates the branded ginger beer market with an 84%* market share – directly satisfying consumers who are ‘bored with the bland’, according to market research.
Crabbie’s brand manager Claire Kelly explains what ginger beer is and how it should be served. “John Crabbie was a Scottish merchant based in Leith, Edinburgh, who in 1801 was specialising in importing ginger and other exotic spices, using them to produce ginger wine. When he branched out to start making ginger beer, his access to top quality ginger enabled him to create the deep, deliciously spicy flavoured drink we have today.”
At the heart of alcoholic ginger beer is the ginger beer plant (GBP) – this is not an actual plant but a fungal-bacterial symbiote first described by scientist and botanist Harry Marshall Ward in 1892. The basic production process is to take GBP, add it to ginger, sugar and water and then let fermentation create ginger beer.
However, not all ginger beers are the same.
“Where Crabbie’s is different is firstly our recipe and secondly the fact that our ingredients are combined with finest Far Eastern real ginger and then steeped for a minimum of six weeks,” said Claire. “No one else takes that amount of time and care, which is why our ginger beers have such a deep, fiery taste.”
There are three key serving opportunities where Crabbie’s comes into its own, explains Claire. “We spend a lot of time with our on-trade partners on what we call ‘Perfect Serve’. This is where a customer has chosen Crabbie’s – often as a food accompaniment – and wants to take time to enjoy the moment. Our 500ml bottle and dedicated glassware comes into its own here! Then there’s the faster serve customer, for whom we developed our three fruit flavour Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beers. The 330ml bottle is great for pouring or drinking from direct and service is easy and quick. Finally there are our higher end outlets. Something like 75% of cocktails use a ginger flavour of some kind – so we make sure we support this demand by having a whole range of cocktail ideas using Crabbie’s Ginger Beer. It’s exciting working with all these different on-trade customers to make sure consumers get to drink Crabbie’s at its very best.”