What sparked the idea for Dash Water?
Alex and I were working in the sales division of a large soft drinks company, and we realised there was a massive gap in the market for a great-tasting beverage that didn’t contain any sugar or sweetener. We saw that as an opportunity within the UK to launch a product like Dash Water.
The company began operations in May 2017. In the beginning our mission was to be seen in all the right places to build our brand equity. We started out by stocking our product at luxury retailers, boutique gyms, coffee shops and speciality stores such as Selfridges and Whole Foods. Today, Dash is stocked at 5,000 stores across the UK and distributed to 25 countries around the world. It’s been an exciting journey so far.
Why did you choose to work with rejected produce?
We both come from farming backgrounds (I grew up on a farm in Shropshire) and it was that experience that made us aware of the large amount of food that goes to waste in the Western world. One example of this is from my childhood. Our farm used to supply potatoes to a chip manufacturer and only the most perfectly formed potatoes with a certain shape and size would be selected. Those that were too small or with an odd shape would be discarded, or used as animal feed. And that always struck me as being such a huge waste of time, energy and resources.
When we were looking to source fruit with which to infuse our drinks, we found food waste was an issue. So, we decided to buy surplus fruit that’s lower grade, which would otherwise go to waste, to make Dash Waters.
For instance, with cucumbers, we use grades 3 and 4, while grades 1 and 2 get sent to supermarkets. The lower grades are only rejected by the latter because they might be overweight, have blemishes, or are growing in a wonky way, but they’re perfectly good for human consumption. Until now we’ve saved 547,000kg of fruit from going to waste.
Tell us about your product.
It is freshly sprung spring water infused with wonky fruit. We also add bubbles to the water. It doesn’t contain any sugar or sweetener and is also calorie-free. All our drinks are available in slick 330ml cans made from recycled aluminium.
Why do you think Dubai is the right market for your product?
Dubai is a fantastic market for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the hot climate makes Dash Water the ideal match because it is such a refreshing product. Secondly, it is an interesting soft drink that is also healthy. It’s a good choice for people who want to avoid sugary beverages and whose options are perhaps limited by lifestyle diseases such as diabetes or obesity.
Do you follow certain guidelines when selecting farmers to work with?
They’re all large producers of fruit so they have to follow certain standards of production that are needed to supply the food chain. However, they’re not growers of organic produce.
Are the fruit and veg only sourced from British growers or do you also work with farmers overseas?
Actually, the lemons come from Sicily in Italy, the peaches are sourced from Spain, while the cucumbers, raspberries and blackcurrants are from farms in the UK. The raspberries and blackcurrants are sourced from within a 20-mile radius of our manufacturing facility so we’re really proud of the food miles involved in that. We are looking at potentially producing in Australia this coming summer, with fruit sourced from the local market.
How many flavours are there currently in the Dash range?
There are five flavours – blackcurrant, lemon, cucumber, raspberry and peach. Spinneys will stock peach, lemon and raspberry, which are our bestsellers. All these drinks have a shelf life of 18 months. We will be launching a line of flavoured soda waters made for mixing in the near future.
Is the company involved in any CSR projects?
Dash Water is a certified B Corporation. This certification basically gives equal importance to profit, the environment and social sustainability. As a company, we have to abide by strict guidelines to maintain the certification. One of the ways we got certified was by measuring our carbon emissions. Our online shop is our largest customer in the UK. We sell approximately 12,000 cans a day through our website – directly to customers – through a subscribe and save model. All those deliveries are carbon neutral.
Dash Water supports a food waste charity called Feedback by donating a certain percentage of the company’s revenue to it. We also volunteer at Feedback, which involves going to farms to pick leftover fruit and vegetables after the fields have been commercially harvested. This prevents additional food wastage. So, we’re doing a lot of work to ensure Dash Water is at the forefront of sustainability.
For more information, please visit @dashdrinks and dash-water.com
British sparkling spring water infused with real, wonky fruit