Perspectives, Trends & News

Getting Spirit-ual with Indigenous Botanicals

on Thu Aug 08 2021
  • Market Insights

Back in black

Beyond being just the flavour of the month, indigenous Australian botanicals have a storied history that predates European arrival. Before Taka Gin, and Sobah craft beers infused Australian flavours into your local Dan Murphy’s, indigenous communities were fermenting beverages such as the cider-like Way-a-linah.

The trend back to indigenous ingredients was already underway, arguably kick-started by one of the world’s great chefs sojourn to Australia in 2016. More recently, interest in domestic beverage production has been exacerbated by twin forces - disruption of international supply chains, and a move towards premium, low and no alcohol beverages.

Quarantini anyone?

These supply disruptions came as exportation and importation of goods were hugely affected by the quarantine decisions of our trading partners. Many small businesses, especially in hospitality, struggled with this irregular supply, and the on/off lockdown restrictions changing their demand dynamics. 

To assist, the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) coordinated the “Go Local First” campaign to promote small businesses impacted by the pandemic. Ever since the campaign went viral, consumers have increasingly sought brands that carry local products and incorporate local resources to support local workers and producers.


Gen “Y Not?”

The rise of consumer demand for crafted beer, spirits and premium wine is mainstreaming. Millennials are willing to pay a higher price for a premium product. They are literally the main key factors for premiumisation as many are looking at better and sustainable ingredients in products and services. Furthermore, millennials are less influenced by price than supporting ethical businesses and while they’re at home during COVID-19 they’re more inclined to treat themselves. 

Native botanicals for a domestic audience

It’s the perfect environment for indigenous curators and creators to showcase local ingredients. Taka Gin recently entered the market with its unique flavour derived from gin infused with native plants. The indigenous founder, daughter of a Gunditjmara mother and a Yuin father, her gin during lockdown aiming to highlight the abundance of native food accessible by the local trade using “juniper, coriander, angelica root, cassia, finger lime, orris root and desert lime…[and two] under-utilised native plants “Lemon-scented gum leaf...and native lemongrass.” She’s in good company. Seven Seasons, founded by a Larrakia man, saw early success with their Something Wild Green Ant Gin and followed up with Bush Apple Gin, and Native Yam Vodka. For its part, Darwin Gin is infused with Kakadu plum, sourced from local Larrakia communities, and native lemongrass from a Laotian refugee., Even hospitality businesses like Attica and Warakirri are incorporating native ingredients in their culinary offerings.

It’d be tempting to see this as a purely Australian phenomenon, but it’s not. The adoption of native ingredients can be seen in Canaïma Gin from Venezuela, Wild Tiger Beverages in India and botanical soda maker Bickford and Sons adds the Davidson plum closer to home as the trend spreads from Gin to beer, spirits, and more. 

The perfect tonic to remote unemployment?

Sadly, though the enthusiasm for indigenous botanicals is in part driven by the assumed or actual support for local communities, only 1% of the bush food industry is produced by indigenous populations.

However, it is driving new opportunities in remote farming communities “The Australian spirits industry is somewhere like the Australian wine industry in the 1970s,” he says. “We are incredibly small, both within the domestic market and in the global market. We have a long way to go – there is plenty of room for more great distilleries.”

With this upswing in demand and a more mature supply chain, it may encourage consumers to learn and understand the process and history of alcohol production in Australia. The sustainability factor not only saves resources and decreases harmful chemicals used in broadacre farming, but it is also a great way to promote the indigenous communities and add value to their land.

Of course, to truly capitalise on this phenomenon producers must fight innovative ways to promote awareness and adoption of their novel beverages - whether they're premium indigenous spirits, or low and no alcohol offerings. Luckily, iGo has substantial experience in promoting alcohol with custom campaigns targeted at engaged and appropriate audiences.

Find out why over 2000 businesses trust iGo, call us on 03 8383 6000 to get started!