A sustainable future for kombucha
An artisan kombucha company based in Golden Bay is taking sustainability to the next level with its new bottle return and refill systems.
As MamaZing kombucha continues to fill the fridges at health shops, cafes and supermarkets around the country, its busy owners have their eyes on how to create a more sustainable future.
Amira and Jo
Mudwood sell their kombucha from a wagon at weekend markets around the region and the
Golden Bay Organic
Community Gardens, where they brew the health tonic in oak barrels.
Customers can now bring their empty swing-top glass bottles for a discounted refill from the tap or a 50 cent return.
Jo said MamaZing would always be a small-scale artisan product, unlike some of the bigger brewing companies that focus on efficient mass-production.
‘‘Part of what we are looking at is, maybe we seek to serve a smaller market and keep it local and really sustainable,’’ he said.
‘‘We might ship out to places which, even though they might be far away, would still require that relationship with bottle return, and maybe having taps there as well.
‘‘Ultimately, we don’t want to support the sale of more bottles, we are trying to sell the medicine inside.’’
Kombucha is a sweetened tea beverage that originated in China thousands of years ago and has been in Eastern Europe, Russia and Japan for several centuries. The drink is fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY), famous for its health benefits, particularly the gut.
Despite being fairly new to the New Zealand market, homebrewers have been fermenting the effervescent drink in their kitchens and hot water cupboards for decades.
Amira said the refill system was the couple’s next big push, and some outlets and supermarkets had even expressed an interest in adopting the system.
‘‘It’s the way forward, and for us it makes it complete.
‘‘We use less bottles that way, and still people can afford to drink kombucha.
‘‘That is ultimately what these bottles are designed for, is reuse.’’
They are also offering the 50 cent return for the bottles, but the uptake on the offer has been slow so far.
Some shops, such as Organic Green Grocer in Nelson, Health 2000 in Motueka and Piko Wholefoods in Christchurch, have adopted the return and refund system.
‘‘Because so little is available for 50 cents these days, I think people want to hold on to the bottle.
We tried to bring up our price to compensate for the 50 cent return, and our sales went down heaps.’’
They said customers can soon look forward to trying an exciting new brew on the horizon.
Amira (left) and Jo Mudwood from MamaZing kombucha have adopted a refill and return system.