Functional beverage opportunities: Drink Dry seeks brands to help fill gaps in UAE market

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Drink Dry is intending to introduce more functional beverages such as vitamin and rehydration drinks. ©Getty Images
Drink Dry is intending to introduce more functional beverages such as vitamin and rehydration drinks. ©Getty Images

Related tags Uae functional beverages non-alcoholic

UAE non-alcoholic drink online marketplace and distributor Drink Dry says that functional beverages are an emerging trend in the region and is looking to list more of such products on its platform.

Launched earlier this year, Drink Dry primarily stocks and distributes non-alcoholic beer, sparkling wine, spirits, and is now selling Red Bull’s energy drinks.

Founder Erika Doyle said: “In the last year, we have seen a slight shift from the typical non-alcoholic beer or wine to a beverage with added benefits​.

A few years ago, non-alcoholic drinks were seen as a replacement for alcohol, or as a filler for when alcohol wasn’t an option. Consumers thought of these drinks as more celebratory and social than just a glass of water​.

But consumers now are more aware of what goes into their body and becoming more demanding in their beverage options, asking for specific functions in their drinks​.

So, they’re thinking of maybe a non-alcoholic beer with added protein, or mood-boosting properties or anything that is good for me​. So that's where the category is slowly innovating and bringing these functional beverages in place​.”

Watch the video to hear from Erika Doyle.

Drink with a purpose

The obvious first choice was to stock energy drinks, which are already popular in the region.

Next year, Drink Dry is intending to introduce more functional beverages such as vitamin and rehydration drinks. “These drinks offer a purpose for health and well-being, not just an occasion drink​.”

Doyle highlighted how functional beverages were not limited to such products, it may also include non-alcoholic spirits distilled with herbs and botanicals that have a positive effect on mental, digestion, sleep for example.

Domestic performance

In UAE, Drink Dry has a D2C channel, as well as B2B presence through retailers and hospitality.

When it launched earlier this year, most of its sales came from its e-commerce channel, with sales growing three times month-on-month within the first four months.

Mid-2021, the firm distributed into the retail and hospitality channels, expanding its B2B sales. In April, Drink Dry launched into supermarket chain Choithrams​ followed by Souq Planet, a supermarket retailer in Abu Dhabi.

In November 2021, B2B sales overtook its e-commerce sales. “Our sales from January to November grew by 2,000%,” ​Doyle said.

Continuing its B2B success, Drink Dry will distribute products in three supermarket retailers next year. Doyle harbours ambitious goals to be present in most retailers in UAE by the end 2022.

She said the biggest challenge lays in the hospitality industry, where the difficulty is in explaining the benefits of having non-alcoholic drinks in their menu. Drink Dry has a presence in 100 venues in Dubai from hotels to cafes.

The firm plans to expand into Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait in Q1 2022.

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