wow chia drink

A British business is to launch Europe’s first chia seed drink after winning EU ‘novel food’ approval to use the seeds in a beverage.

Wow Chia, set to launch in Whole Foods Market by the end of October, followed by German retailer Kaisers in November, is a mix of high pressure processed cold-pressed fruit juice, with 4% chia seeds. It will be sold in a 250ml single-serve format (rsp: £2.89) in four flavours: apple & kiwi, orange & mango, pineapple & lemon, and watermelon & pomegranate.

The London-based brand was created by entrepreneurs Oliver Dickinson and Rory Paterson in 2014, after he used a homemade drink containing the seeds as a makeshift hangover cure. Since then, the company has been awaiting approval for the product. Although the process went through the EC, it required all 28 member states to consider the application, as

Chia is classed as a ‘novel food’ and, before Wow Chia, approval had only been given for its use as in ingredient in bread and cereals.

Wow Chia is manufactured in the Netherlands with chia seeds sourced in Bolivia. Along with the drinks, the brand is also introducing pouches of whole and milled chia seeds, and chia oil - also the first product of its kind to receive EU approval.

Although new to Europe, chia drinks are well established in the US since the category was pioneered by Mamma Chia in 2010.

Dickson said his aim with the drink was to create “as strong a functional product offering as possible - which went beyond just one of your 5 a day.”

A 250ml serving has 6.4g of protein and 6g of fibre. It also contains omega-3 and 6, and a similar amount of calcium to a glass of milk.”The presence of fibre is particularly powerful because it’s usually non-existent in fruit juice drinks,” said Dickinson. “This is partly to blame for the backlash against juicing because there’s nothing to stop the breakdown of sugar in the body. Its presence in ours will help combat that.”

Branding expert Claire Nuttall said she expected chia drinks to eventually replicate their popularity in the US. “The mouthfeel can be an issue for some, it’s a love-hate thing, but people who love it become advocates quite quickly,” she said.

“Chia drinks and snacks are definitely going to go places. I think the whole movement towards protein-rich food and drinks will also aid both this brand and the chia category’s rise to success. Education in the early days will be key to uptake.”