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Group creates a direct line to thirsty consumers

MOST manufacturers and food producers agree that one of the hardest things in their business is getting products onto supermarket shelves.

One group of beverage producers have found a way around the problem, however.

By banding together they have been able to offer supermarkets a range of products, thereby enhancing their chances of getting shelf space.

Direct Line Management has been formed to help purified water producer Refresh, fruit water seller Illusion H2O and Inchant’s Bullant Gingerbeer get onto supermarket shelves.

Illusion H2O managing director Bruno Cristovao said going to supermarkets with a range of beverages under the one banner made a big difference.

“The big beverage companies such as Coca Cola, Pepsi and Schweppes have about 95 per cent of the market,” he said.

“I found that if you go in with six or seven items it catches the supermarket’s interest.

“They may only buy one or two of the range but it gets those products onto the shelves.

“If you’ve just got one product, forget it.”

Mr Cristovao said the approach had proved successful for the beverages under the Direct Line banner. It has products on the shelves of about 55 supermarkets.

He said Refresh had doubled its sales in the 600 millilitre, five and 10 litre sales, and about 80 per cent of supermarket sales of the 15.9 litre bottles had been to new customers.

“The fruit water has been selling steadily and the Bullant Gingerbeer has gathered pace and competes well with Queensland’s Bundaberg Gingerbeer,” Mr Cristovao said.

Direct Line will soon be adding the British Softdrinks Scottish-born beverage Irn Bru to its range.

Irn Bru had an unsuccessful introduction to the WA market about five years ago. One of its claims is it helps people recover from the after effects of consuming too much of Scotland’s more famous beverage.

Mr Cristovao said joining forces had also brought economies of scale for the beverage makers.

“We’re getting Refresh to make our fruit waters in their Malaga factory. That helps reduce some of their costs and get better deals on things such as bottles because they are buying bigger quantities,” he said.

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