The Kvas Company was established by Jack Bristow, originally from the UK, and Sabina Sabirova-Bristow, from Russia. The pair moved to New Zealand from Moscow at the end of 2013. Jack had worked for a big law firm in Russia, while Sabina was in marketing. They spoke to the team about The Kvas Company.
What is your company background, how did you start the business?
“One of the things we noticed when we moved to New Zealand was that a lot of things are really sweet. Being used to less sugary products, we found the local offerings weren’t really to our taste. With recent international trends to lower sugar consumption, we thought there might be a market opportunity for kvas. In Russia kvas has successfully held off the influx of multinational beverage corporations to remain the country’s favourite soft drink. Besides commercially available products, it is still common for people to brew their own, as we had been doing for years. We started giving people our kvas to try and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive so we decided to launch The Kvas Company. To begin with we thought that our main problem would be getting people to try a completely unknown product, but the fermented food trend really took off as we were coming to market and kombucha started to break out, which has created an interest in similar products and helped open the door to us.”
What are the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?
“We are the only kvas producer in New Zealand, so our products are unique. We have two lines, the Brod Traditional Kvas line is kvas like you would find in Russia, classic Brod Original Rye, and fruit flavoured Brod Lemon and Brod Blueberry. The Brod Original Kvas line is doubly unique, using ingredients and flavours that as far as we know are not used by any other kvas brewer anywhere – Brod Brown with cold brew coffee, cinnamon and cloves and Brod Rosé with rosebuds and cardamom. There will be a couple more Original Kvas varieties coming later this year.
“Compared to kombucha, kvas has a milder flavour and more body, which we think makes it a better food match. And, of course, as a low-sugar, raw, live, naturally fermented probiotic beverages it has the same kind of benefits.”
Has there been any recent company news?
“After a really small-scale start, we have now moved into our own dedicated brewery with much more capacity. We have had a fermenter custom built to our requirements and started online sales. Later this year we will launch two new Brod Original Varieties – Brod Blond with jasmine and vanilla, and Brod Violet with lavender, cacao and lemon.”
What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?
“Now that we have expanded our production capacity and received some coverage through the Artisan Awards win for Brod Brown and Outstanding NZ Food Producer Finalist for Brod Lemon, the plan is to expand our availability in North Island.”
Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability? If so, where would you like to see the product situated?
“We are available in specialist retailers and supermarkets around Christchurch, Nelson, Blenheim and Dunedin, Moore Wilson’s and On Trays in Wellington. We should be available in Auckland soon, as well as some of the other North Island towns. We recently put Brod Lemon on tap at Cassels Brewery in Christchurch. Unlike kombucha, where the scoby causes problems, kvas can be kegged in all its live, naturally carbonated, probiotic goodness. We think kvas is the best non-alcoholic alternative, so that is something we would like to develop too.”