This summer we launched three new refreshing seltzer flavors — Pink Lemonade, Ruby Grapefruit, and Wild Berry. Each flavor was developed after months of research, testing, and – of course- lots of sampling.
Once those of us outside the research and development team got to try the seltzers, we thought: “These are amazing. How did they do this?” So we set out to learn more.
We sat down with Brad Miles, R&D Innovations Manager at Cali Squeeze, to find out what the innovation process was like and how we ended up with these three perfect summer sippers.
What’s the innovation process like?
Innovation in general is a big, collaborative effort. Members from teams all across Cali Squeeze pitched in to ensure we were creating seltzers that we actually want to drink ourselves. And that’s a high bar.
Brad told us that the team’s first step was to list out all the things they wanted in the new seltzers. Real fruit. Great color. Not too sweet. No artificial ingredients. It doesn’t sound like too much, but he explained that seltzer innovation “is a lot more complicated than beer innovation due to the vast array of available flavors.”
The Brewing Team started out by creating base seltzer that was as neutral as possible, allowing the flavors themselves to shine. Meanwhile, the Marketing and Sales Team members researched trending flavors and aligned their findings with what everyone as a group liked best. Once these two steps are sorted, “it’s a lot of trialing and experimentation until we get the formulation to a place where we are happy with it.”
Once the Brewing Team settled on an outline for the recipe, it was time for logistics – figuring out suppliers and lead times for ingredients. With product quality always being a top priority for us, it was key that we found partners who share these values.
How did the team land on Pink Lemonade, Ruby Grapefruit, and Wild Berry?
Brad told us that initially, the team was working with between five and six flavors. Because of the prioritization of quality, it was important to the team that the fruits they chose were grown locally in California, and that was true for the fruits in each of the final flavors.
Plus, he tells us, “these three were ones we as a group liked to drink, and we thought others would as well.”
“Pink Lemonade is like a throwback to warm summer days with freshly squeezed lemonade,” he told us. Pink Lemonade is a flavor we’ve offered before, but the team reformulated it this time around to improve the flavor.
“Ruby Grapefruit is like a perfectly ripe grapefruit with a tropical twist,” he said, “and Wild Berry is a medley of berries that tastes like eating fresh strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries.”
What should be our final takeaway about innovation?
“It’s a lot of experimentation, tasting, talking, over and over and over until we get to a point where we’re satisfied,” Brad said. “We make what we would like to drink.”