A discussion with Ferm Kombucha

Ferm Kombucha, founded in 2016, is a producer/distributor of craft-brewed organic kombucha tea based in Bruges-Belgium. Completely organic, low in sugar, Ferm Kombucha wants to be a healthy alternative for overly sweet and unhealthy soft drinks and provide the consumer a healthy way of enjoying leisure with friends and family.

The company operates in the Belgium market and also exports to France, Netherlands, Sweden. The company is also producing under Private label for some UK, Germany, Spain, and Italy clients.

We had a great discussion with the Co-Founder of Ferm Kombucha Pascal Deotte, who participated in Wabel Online Drinks Brands Summit 2020.

How has Covid-19 impacted your company and your strategy?

We are in the market for 5 years now, and our main target was HoReCa (bars, restaurants etc.), so we have never worked with retailers before. We simply believe that people are more willing to try new things, new products in bars or restaurants in the first place. That was our strategy before March 2020. When Covid occurred, our sales dropped immediately since 90% of our revenue was generated from HoReCa. So as a result, we had to change our strategy rapidly. In only one week after the lockdown was announced, we had a webshop, which turned out to be an immediate success story, so we managed to keep our sales like a year before. And after the lockdown, we produced as much kombucha as we used to in 2019. We had lots of clients who counted on us for their private label projects. Before Covid, we used to do private label only for one client in Germany, whereas now we expanded our clients' portfolio in private label projects, especially for retail. So we are doing pretty well, which was a surprise for us!

We are now more focused on retail, and we get people for kombucha. Our product has always been very trendy but probably too trendy for big supermarkets. That's why we were more present in organic shops, specialty stores, but now we really see the potential to be present in big retail stores. Even if kombucha is much more expensive than lemonade, consumers are now ready to pay more for a better drink. People are tired of sugared sodas; they want something different. So now it is the time for kombucha drinks to take place on supermarkets shelves. Retailers understand that and try to expand this category.

Did you plan to attend any physical exhibitions this year?

March was supposed to be full of exhibitions in Paris, Stockholm, Brussels, Cologne. Just in one week, they were all canceled. It was very difficult because now it is tough to find customers.

That is why I am very happy with Wabel because it really helped us to get in contact with the right people. I was very surprised to see so many international companies.

Even when visiting physical trade shows in France or Belgium, I have never seen as many representatives from international markets as I have seen in Wabel. Normally we meet some people from the Netherlands, Germany, UK, and Belgium, but we never meet some companies from Mexico, Ukraine, or South Korea, for example!!

So with Wabel you can meet everyone, the companies from all over the world! And these contacts have a very positive impact on our export strategy.

Are you happy attending Wabel Summit this year?

Yes! It was very international so we are very happy! Of course, we have to wait and be patient to see which results it brings.

Why did you come back to Wabel this year?

We have already participated in Wabel Summit in 2019, so I was happy to take part again this year.

How can you describe Wabel?

For me Wabel is a great opportunity to get to know buyers from all over the world.