Source: Gusto Organic

Gusto’s range includes eight organic, Fairtrade, refined sugar-free soft and energy drinks

Gusto Organic has smashed its fundraising target after reaching out to the crowd for investment as it bids to become a “dominant player” in the UK’s soft drinks market.

With six days left of its Crowdcube campaign, the plant-based soft drinks maker is continuing to overfund its campaign after surging past its £180k target and has so far raised £368k for a stake of around 13%, valuing the firm at £2.5m.

“We’re hugely pleased with the campaign so far and are on course to nearly triple our target by the end of the campaign on 6 August,” said CEO William Fugard.

“There is something subversive and empowering about crowdfunding – we have gathered an army of highly engaged investors, many of which are huge advocates of our brand and keen to support us.”

Gusto plans to use the cash raised to expand both UK and globally by establishing an in-house sales team to “effectively target retail, food service and on-trade”.

It is also planning the development of new products – including an organic tonic range – and of a mixer-size variant to meet increasing consumer demand for craft soft drinks.

Any remaining cash would be used to secure working capital to “fund growth and enhanced stock holding”.

The funding drive will ”bolt on a rocket pack” on the brand’s growth, Fugard added, helping to fulfil its “mission of becoming a dominant player” in the £15.7bn UK soft drinks industry.

Gusto’s range of eight-strong organic, Fairtrade and refined sugar-free drinks is currently stocked by Ocado, Whole Foods Market and Eat 17, among others.

Internationally the soft drinks brand – which is present in retailers across Holland, France, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Czech Republic, Romania and Singapore – plans to grow its distribution to other European countries within the next two years.

Exports accounted for around 30% of the brand’s turnover in the past 12 months, with Gusto forecasting “significant growth” in the channel.

The company claimed to be “on track” to more than double turnover to £837k in the year ending April 2020. Last year sales rose 51% to £222k.

Fugard added: “Retailers and buyers have woken to the changing demands of a more conscious consumer and we’re seeing that translated into listings.

“We see the future of Gusto Organic as a successful British brand operating on a global stage.”