From hand bottling with a soda stream to distribution in a few months, the rapid growth of beverage brand Applelachia is a testament to innovation, persistence and the still-growing market for functional products supporting gut health.
Applelachia is Australia’s first shelf stable, preservative-free sparkling apple cider vinegar made with fresh fruit and herbs and less than one per cent sugar. It’s sold in independent grocery, health food stores and cafes and features three flavours – cola; turmeric, ginger and yuzu; and passionfruit.
The company recently expanded its range with Yuzu superfood lemonade. Also known as Japanese Citrus, yuzu is Australia’s latest love – a cross between grapefruit and lemon and is known for its high vitamin C content, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Rewind a few years and founder Caroline Chang’s initial batch was made at home to remedy her own digestive issues.
“I realised there was a gap in the market when I couldn’t find a healthy, sugar-free drink with ACV that actually tasted good. I started by researching what it would take to start my own brand.”
“I had a soda stream, a cheap blender, a hand-capping machine and some measuring spoons from Kmart – that’s how I started,” she said.
“I would apply the levels by hand and use a ruler to make sure they were straight. Then I would actually have to find some recycled cartons from neighbours to pack them in.
“I took these bottles and I went cold door knocking. My first break was when I went into Terra Madre (in Melbourne’s north) and there was a recall of a kombucha; they had some space and I got to squeeze in there.
“I was telling the buyer about the health benefits, she said, ‘can you bring in six slabs tomorrow?’; I walked out the door screaming, ‘How am I going to do this?’. I stayed up to three in the morning doing everything by hand making sure everything was meticulous.” Shortly after Ms Chang took on a second store and then a distributor.
Applelachia quickly moved to a microbrewery, then to a bigger one before settling with the brand’s current contract manufacturer.
Applelachia is distributed by Happy Green in Victoria; V Gourmet in New South Wales and Pemco in Western Australia. Ms Chang is seeking distributors for South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania.