Low-sugar drink good buddy for schoolkids

By Susan Edmunds

Sian Leonard and Milla. Photo / Doug Sherring
Sian Leonard and Milla. Photo / Doug Sherring

After only seven weeks in production, a children's drink product is on shop shelves nationwide and is set to be distributed throughout Australia and Hong Kong.

The drink range, Water Buddies, was dreamed up by Sian Leonard, her husband Matt Clifford and their three children, aged 4 to 14.

Leonard said the family saw a need for low-sugar drinks for children.

She knew from her own experience that it could be hard to get children to drink enough water, especially after they started school.

Leonard asked her kids to design their ideal drink. She then focused on making it stack up from a nutrition point of view. "We used our kids to create the brand."

The range of flavoured water has less than 2 per cent sugar, and 80 per cent less sugar than typical orange juice. Already almost half a million bottles have been produced. The product is stocked in 1000 dairies and petrol stations, as well as New World and Pak'nSave supermarkets, and Countdown, Z and BP will soon stock it.

"Kids think it's a confectionary product because it's bright and cool but the message to parents is around the health side of it," Leonard said.

Two of the flavours are named after 4-year-old daughter Milla, and Carter, Leonard's 8-year-old son. They have been turned into characters who appear on the bottles. Seeing other kids carrying drink bottles with their pictures on them has been a huge buzz for the children.

Australian supermarket chain Coles will stock Water Buddies at its 1600 stores in time for next year's first school term. It will be Australia's first flavoured water for kids.

Leonard said retailers felt a responsibility to provide healthy alternatives and parents were pleased to have a healthy option.

Next on the Water Buddies to-do list is a range of nutritious convenience food. Leonard said parents often struggled to find quick options that weren't full of sugar and salt.

- Herald on Sunday

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