Lemon iced tea can drinks

A soft drinks start-up founded by one of the winner’s of The Grocer’s Top New Talent awards is looking to reinvigorate the iced tea category with a new low-calorie tea it claims will generate £1m within two years.

The two-strong Virtue range - which went on sale this week - contains fewer than 20 calories per 100ml compared with the 30 calories contained in most iced teas. It is available in strawberry & peach and lemon ­flavours, and is being sold through wholesaler The Health Store, chilled food distributor Simple Simon and health food chain Revital (rsp: £1.19/ 330ml can).

Founder and MD Rahi Daneshmand, who is currently in talks with the major mults for potential listings, said Virtue was “the lowest-calorie iced tea” in the UK and would appeal to health-conscious consumers with its clean-label list of ingredients. The drinks are naturally sweetened with fruit extract and stevia and do not contain any refined sugars or artificial ingredients.

Daneshmand is targeting in excess of £1m in sales within the first two years, and claimed the new teas could rival coconut water in terms of growth potential.

“Our ice teas contain fewer calories and less natural sugar than coconut water, with more palatable flavours.”

Initial interest from buyers had been “phenomenal”, he added.

Virtue is made in the UK, with tea sourced globally depending on ­season. Virtue was set up by Daneshmand last November, and is being backed by seven private investors. Daneshmand was named one of the winners of The Grocer’s inaugural Top New Talent awards last year, with the judges describing his drive as “relentless.”