Natural soft drinks in cool flavour combos appeal to modern foodies
Text by Lekha Kanagasabai
Familiar with the ins and outs of the beverage business, John McEachern has proven that he is a force to be reckoned with. “Part of the reason why beverages are interesting is because all of my experience is from that industry,” he says. A veteran amongst food giants, McEachern has worked with the likes of Pepsi Co., and most recently, General Mills. Armed with knowledge, determination, and a mind bubbling with fresh ideas, McEachern has stepped out from the confines of the industry to launch Peak Drive Beverages, where he is Founder and CEO. McEachern’s newest and first venture for Peak Drive is Just Craft Soda, a range of natural soft drinks that come in bold, intriguing flavours ranging from Lemon & Lemongrass to Peach & Habanero. An unapologetic foodie, McEachern curates these flavours in his very own kitchen, citing no precise methodology to his madness, just good old experimentation.
What is the company’s philosophy?
All the products I produce are never going to be based on a health claim. That’s kind of one of the things that’s most interesting that might make people surprised. Where I’m coming from with that is all of the health trends that I’ve seen, they’re often very faddish. I don’t want to build brands on health claims because I feel like they could be gone tomorrow. On top of that, the science behind them is incredibly shaky, and it just doesn’t feel consistent with what I’m trying to do in producing natural products that are good just because they are made with better ingredients, not necessarily because they have a function.
What makes Just Craft stand out amongst a sea of bigger companies?
We’re trying to craft an image that works with an older, more mature consumer. I’m talking about older Millennials who are interested in an image that resonates more with who they are at that stage in their life. I go back to a lot of the soft drinks I loved growing up. They really spoke to me as a 15 to 25-year-old male, but as you get older, suddenly those brands don’t really speak to you and there’s a bit of incongruity with those brands in your life.
How difficult is it to start a soda company in an increasingly health-conscious environment?
Sugar has been, to a certain extent, demonized by the press. The reality is that products with sugar are delicious and make us feel good. Myself as a consumer, I’ve drastically cut down the amount of sugar I consume, but I still look for those high-quality treats. I want people to consume this soda as part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Some of the big soda companies have saturated the market to such an extent that they need to get people to drink more. I’m in a great position where I’m starting from scratch, and if I can get people to choose my product as a treat once in awhile, then I can really build a sizable business.
Coke or Pepsi?
It’s an easy one for me. It’s Pepsi. And that’s because I worked with the company for a relatively long time and I think it’s a fantastic company. I love their products and I think it’s a great organization that does some really great things.