Bright blue water: Smart-chimp moves spirulina from supplement section to beverage aisle
The French brand – described as 'a drink packed with antioxidants from fresh spirulina extract, finely-sparkling spring water, organic lemon and wild berries' - faces the challenge of explaining the little-known ingredient to consumers.
While there is potential for the vivid blue to be misinterpreted as an artificial color, Benjamin Lacour, co-founder of smart-chimp, told BeverageDaily.com the brand is careful to ensure consumers understand its natural ingredients.
Choosing retail locations wisely – organic shops, for example – helps assure consumers the product is free from artificial ingredients. The brand also explains spirulina in simple terms on each bottle, he added.
The brand is currently available in organic shops, hotels, restaurants and thalassotherapy centres in France, and its ambition is to develop a range of products as well.
Spirulina is a micro-algae, known best as a nutritional supplement in tablets or powder. Lacour said his mission was to bring ‘a bona fide superfood into everyone’s daily life.’
“For several years I would take spirulina tablets before going for a run,” he said. “The idea to incorporate spirulina into my diet permanently, and not just as a vitamin supplement, came naturally and grew over time in my mind.
“The smart-chimp company was created two years ago, but we had been working on the product a whole year before its launch. The conception was challenging while we went through laboratory tests, but it was worth it.
“To convey the [health] message to our customers we chose to be simple and transparent. All of the information concerning spirulina benefits and ingredients are indicated on smart chimp bottles.”
The beverage's color comes from the pigment phycocyanin, present in the micro algae.
While consumers could assume the bright blue is caused by artificial ingredients, Lacour is confident the brand uses the color to its advantage.
“It is the bright blue that draws consumer’s attention and that is remembered even after the last sip.”
Consumers’ first impressions can be that the color is artificial, but this is quickly overcome, he added.
“It is a real strength for our drink to be sold in organic shops because it assures our customers that the product is entirely natural.
“For those who are less familiar with spirulina extract, we also decided to add ‘natural blue color’ on the label of the bottle. This helps to avoid any misconceptions.”