The days of rocking up to a barbeque with a slab of beer and wine casks could soon be a thing of the past, as today's young drinkers look for healthier options.
Leading the charge is a pair of Canberra mates turned entrepreneurs, Mick Spencer and Liam Battye, who created Gravity Seltzer in 2021.
The duo wanted to disrupt the alcohol industry with a refreshing and lighter alternative: hard seltzers - highball drinks consisting of carbonated water, alcohol and often fruit flavourings. Unlike most RTDs (ready-to-drink) they contain minimal calories, carbs or sugar.
Dissatisfied with the seltzers on offer in Australia, Gravity's mission is not to just become "Australia's best 'better for you' beverage company", but to inspire the population to explore more of the outdoors, while rethinking their drinking habits.
This vision and co-ownership by professional athletes - Newcastle-raised wakeboarder Harley Clifford, former Gold Coast IronMan Matt Poole, Wollongong surfer Cooper Chapman, Canberra freestyle motocross rider Harry Bink and Canberra-born multi-discipline and performance athlete Jenna Louise - has led Gravity to experience a meteoric rise in the Australian alcohol industry.
"In the first four months of trade we almost did a million bucks of revenue sold. Not far off 200,000 cans," said Mr Spencer.
"[We] became the most engaged seltzer brand online in social media and have also secured massive stadium contracts with all the NSW stadiums."
Already available at BWS, Dan Murphy's and independent bottleshops in Canberra and South Coast NSW - along with some local venues, the seltzer start-up has now landed a significant partnership and major retail deal with First Choice Liquor - Coles Liquor Group (CLG).
The partnership is twofold as Gravity has always had the plan to be a "force for good".
Since November 1, Gravity Seltzer's Watermelon flavour and 'Explore More Variety Packs' have been stocked in 98 stores across the country, with the packs exclusive to CLG.
Secondly, CLG will work with Gravity on its exisiting partnership with drone tech company, AirSeed Technologies, to plant a tree in NSW with every variety pack sold.
"This will be in addition to the 8500 trees we have already committed to planting this year," said Mr Spencer.
"Sustainability is very close to our hearts, and we are thrilled that CLG also wants to be involved with that partnership. I think it's an awesome statement."
AirSeed is committed to planting 100 million new trees in Australia by 2024. With Gravity they have already planted 4,200 seed pods across 102,800sqm of land, with a commitment to grow this number every month.
Their current sustainability projects are at Bredbo and Nimmitabelin in Snowy Mountains - where new trees have removed 716.1kgs of CO2, and Cattai Wetlands, Port Macquarie.
"Every pod we plant with AirSeed increases new forests," said Mr Spencer.
"We think there'll be minimum of about 3000 trees planted with Coles in the next 12 months, which will be not too far off about 80,000sqm of land restored.
"That's pretty impressive when you think about how big a football field is."
Mr Spencer and Mr Battye acknowledged there were no Australian drinks brands that owned the outdoor and adventure space, and realised that Millennials and Gen Z were driving a movement to have a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
A study from Roy Morgan found the "big three" alcohol types - wine, beer and spirits - were all down on a year ago when it came to consumption, however RTDs, led by the increasing popularity of hard seltzer, was up by 16.7 per cent.
A further report by Future Market Insights predicts that seltzers will be a US$76.87bn global industry by 2033, with Mr Specncer estimating the Australian industry - currently worth $300m - will "easily" be $1bn.
"What we're noticing is a lot of people are really conscious drinkers now," he said.
"They're looking for products that are vegan or gluten free. They're looking for products that maybe give back as a part of their gross profit per case.
"There's a lot more competition now and particularly that Millennial market really wants to see companies doing good things in the community."
Mr Spencer explained Gravity Seltzer is making a statement.
"Australians love to have a drink. Drinking is ingrained in our culture," he said. "A Canadian Club or a craft beer are 200 to 350 calories per can.
"High levels of sugar, high levels of carbohydrates, high levels of gluten aren't good for the body.
"We've tried to craft a bit more of a natural blend to say 'if you're going to have a drink, have something a bit better for you, but also have fun'."
Gravity wanted to ensure its products were naturally brewed, steering clear of ethanol (vodka) and instead have a natural base.
"We proudly brew our base. It's actually brewed like a beer and then we dilute it, and it goes through a carb refining process to remove all the heaviness," said Mr Spencer.
"It ends up tasting a heck of a lot better and it catches the natural ingredients a lot more. It ends up being virtually no sugar and really low calorie alcohol products."
Gravity currently has four alcoholic and non-alcoholic seltzer flavours: Watermelon and Lemon; Kiwi and Guava; Blood Orange and Passionfruit; and, Ginger and Lime. All of which are available in the new variety pack.
One big thing the brand advocates for is "proudly Australian made and proudly Australian owned". They encourage people to support local and independent producers.
"Where there's tough times in hospitality or consumer spending, we need more people to rally around our local brands," said Mr Spencer.
"The employment and investment back into the community for those brands is really important."
Gravity aimed to build something the community could love and that would give back.
Canberra and South Coast NSW is where the brand has its roots and it's enjoyed support from the local communities.
In the coming year they want to expand, growing their sustainability projects and bring them to Queensland and potentially Victoria.
Gravity recognises there is opportunity in the "better for you" space to enter other drinks categories, such as lower alcohol percentage, other RTDs or even the no alcohol space, with flavoured waters.
"The Gravity brand is really starting to catch up," said Mr Spencer.
"It catches that aspirational life of Australians. Beaches and mountains and feeling good. We want to take that further than seltzer.
"It has been a super fast first 12 months in trade and we're even more excited for the 12 months ahead."
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