But, if we are challenged later for some reason – somebody thinks we are overstating our claims – of course we’re susceptible to being sued by competitors, by the FDA or by others. And so I think it’s more of a philosophy, but with the regulatory framework the burden of proof is not that different.
How careful are you about blurring the lines between food supplements and medicine? Is that something you have to pay attention to?
BÖ: We do pay attention to that in the sense that, for example, in our communications, we don’t really want to make a consumer believe that it’s okay to continue eating bad food or stick to unhealthy behaviour and compensate that by just drinking our beverage. You could turn that around and say what we really want to do is to make it easy for consumers to change their behaviour and their lifestyle. I think nutritionists, dieticians, the whole professional healthcare community knows – and indeed many consumers know – that it’s important for them to change what they eat to reverse their health decline. To live healthier, to live better, to become healthier, they need to eat and live better. Everybody knows that inherently – it’s just so hard to make that change. Our philosophy here is ‘a hamburger can never become a chicken salad’ so to speak, but if you do eat hamburgers, drink this with it, and when you start feeling better you’re going to find that it’s going to be easier for you to change your lifestyle. Ultimately the goal is to have everyone eat healthier and eat better.
There’s a huge lurch towards functional food products right now, whether it’s confectionery or dairy. Is that something you see for yourselves, and is it something you were consciously trying to tap into?
BÖ: Absolutely, and I think it’s an obvious field to approach. We need to provide functional foods and food that delivers proper health benefits. It’s an obvious and, I would say in some ways, the only path forward for modern society. It’s way too expensive to take care of these diseases once they have manifested themselves. This is not just me talking; this is a very obvious and a very strong push throughout society. You look at the eastern world, Europe, the US – it’s the same thing. As it happens, it also fits our particular skillsets really well.
The other thing, as you say, that there are many functional products coming; I would like to argue that there are still extremely few, at least that have proven health benefits and that actually go the whole distance to test their products clinically like we do. I read research studies that say that energy beverages are classified as functional beverages. It’s ridiculous quite frankly. You could argue that they add some kind of function: you add caffeine and it wakes you up, well that’s a functionality. Maybe, but it’s not health. In terms of delivering preventive health, I don’t see many products at all. In fact, I think that we’re one of very, very few.
So you think it’s still quite a nascent area?
BÖ: Absolutely, I think the potential is enormous.
EÖ: We’re going into this whole area of functional food, but since we have such a specific way of giving this product – the idea is to have it with a meal – we chose to go with a flavoured sparkling water, which is a very natural product to have with your meal. We really want to make it easy for people to use it in their daily lives and easily exchange it. They may get the same kind of experience that they get from their sodas or energy drinks or whatever, with some sparkle and some nice flavours, but it actually does good for them, so I think that’s also where we stand out from this whole category.