Better For You by Lisa A. Lewis
Big Soda has long been demonised for a multitude of reasons. Not just the corporate greed that they exude with these multinational conglomerates that pervades almost every element of society, but also the way that they dominate every facet of the market operating on a near monopoly basis.
This book is the story of the unlikely heroes of the new wave of soft drinks. The underdogs that have found a niche market in providing specialised fizzy options that have captivated not only Kiwi, but American drinkers. Lisa Lewis provides both an overview of the plucky little guys in the market as well as a deep dive into Glenn Elliott and his mission to bring his artisanal kiwifruit drink to an international market.
The story is well told. Lewis is a writer with a deep knowledge of the industry in which she writes. As more gets revealed the audience become increasingly appalled by the strength of these corporate giants who answer to pretty much no one - apart from the shareholders. Real appeal for the book is the spirit that is demonstrable in the work ethic of Elliott and his Herculean effort to overcome the guardians of the drinks chiller.
As a nation, New Zealand has always punched above its weight in a number of areas. The ‘number 8 wire’ mentality has long been perpetuated to near mythical status. We are the proverbial underdog in nearly every thing we enter, and yet we seem to find breakthrough in areas where we really shouldn’t. From business to entertainment, Hollywood to leadership, New Zealand has demonstrated it’s tenacity and broad appeal. As such, this book is more than just a discussion of Big Soda, it is yet another example of what we as a nation achieve on an international level.
The premise of these sodas is providing a great taste without the additives that Big Soda seems to rely on. The use of organic ingredients and old fashioned quality has its place here much more than the bigger batch lower quality competitors of the multinationals.
Praise must go to the work of Elliott and his compatriots in the new generation of soda including the likes of Phoenix Drinks, and a seemingly endless range of kombucha options. Here’s hoping they are here to stay - an international market, with local Kiwi ownership. The trials are intense and the pain is real, but the success that these businesses achieve is remarkable.
It’s wonderful to read this journey and see the way that kiwi ingenuity and genius marketing concepts really do have an impact even with the biggest boys in the business.
Reviewer: Chris Reed