Bae Juice product is a 100% pear juice which claims to reduce common hangover symptoms such as headache, dry mouth, and sore throat, when consumed before alcohol consumption.
The company started selling in Australia in February 2019, primarily through its online store. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, it expanded its retail presence into independent grocery shops such as IGA and supermarkets like Woolworths.
According to Liam Gostencnik, director and co-founder, over the last 12 months, the company went from 60 stores to 1,700 stores across Australia.
Currently, retail makes up the bulk of its sales, at around 70%.
By the end of this year, the company hopes to enter liquor stores, convenience stores and pharmacies, growing its presence to 3,000.
It is now present in 987 Woolworths supermarkets, and earlier this year, signed deals for 241 Dan Murphy’s and 400 BWS stores across Australia. Dan Murphy's is a liquor supermarket chain owned by Woolworths Group. BWS is a liquor retailer in Australia owned by Endeavour Group, with more than 1,000 stores nationwide.
Since the launch two years ago, Bae Juice has sold over 600,000 units, selling about 7,000 units every week.
The company hopes to reach AU$1.5 million (US$1.1 million) in revenue this year.
Bae Juice manufactures and bottles the product in South Korea, and ships over to Australia. It is sourced, squeezed and packaged in Naju region, famous for its Asian Pears.
The pasteurised juice comes in 120mL pouches, and one pouch contains the juice of one Korean pear.
Gostencnik told us: “We saw how big of a market it was in South Korea.”
Pear juice is commonly taken in Korea to reduce hangover symptoms. Korean pears contain factors that act on the key enzymes involved in alcohol metabolism, alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) which help to speed up alcohol metabolism and inhibit alcohol absorption.
This results in a reduction of hangover symptoms like headache, dry mouth, and sore throat. It is recommended to consume Bae Juice before alcohol intake.
“Studies have shown it also lowers cholesterol, beneficial for people with diabetes, and many pregnant women in Korea also drink pear juice because it is high in folate,
“Some of our customers even say it helps with cold and flu symptoms,” Gostencnik added.
Bae Juice conducted an internal randomised trial on 14 healthy young people to examine the effects of the pear juice before alcohol.
Seven subjects were given the pear juice, while the other seven were given a placebo liquid. After 30 minutes, all subjects consumed 540mL of alcoholic spirits.
Blood and urine samples to be taken the morning after, and hangover symptoms were recorded.
In the first group, subjects had significantly lower blood acetaldehyde levels, a toxin that is thought to be responsible for hangover symptoms.
In addition, other outcomes such as concentration, memory, sensitivity to light and sound, as well as hangover severity were also significantly improved and alleviated in the pear juice group.
According to Gostencnik, Bae Juice is the first Korean pear juice and hangover prevention drink to enter the Australian market.
“A lot of Australian companies and US companies tend to take Westernised products over into the Asian market, but we’re trying to do the opposite.”
In the US, hangover prevention products are a growing market, but “it doesn't really exist in Australia at the moment.”
For instance, Zeno Functional Foods developed a protein bar (SOBAR) that is said to reduce alcohol absorption through the formulation of milk protein and insoluble oat fibre, which holds alcohol in the stomach longer so it can be more efficiently inactivated before its absorption. The company is eyeing a distribution into Asia.
Bae Juice has plans to export to New Zealand by this year, and is eyeing the US and UK markets next year.
“At the moment, we are solely focused on our current product and getting a large distribution in Australian market first,
“Once we've built our revenue to US$4 to 5 million in Australia, we can look into more markets and even new products.”