David Alexander launched Naked Life in December 2016. Picture: Supplied
David Alexander launched Naked Life in December 2016. Picture: Supplied

Aussie treats taking on Zooper Doopers

They're as much a part of the typical Aussie summer as thongs and water fights - but a Melbourne start-up is now on a mission to make beloved icy poles healthy.

David Andrew first started cornering the sugar-free market with his "guilt-free" Naked Life brand in December 2016, which launched with a line of sugar-free soft drinks.

They can now be found in hundreds of stores across the country, and the brand is set to rake in $2.5 million in revenue this financial year.

But in October last year, the 36-year-old also launched a new range of sugar-free icy poles - Sugar Free-zies - which contain stevia instead of sugar, and no artificial colours or preservatives.

They made a staggering $200,000 in the first month alone, and generated more than $900,000 in sales in its first quarter.

Mr Andrew said the company was born by chance after he gave up sugar himself, but struggled to find a soft drink alternative.

"I was always interested in business and in health, and my partner at the time had a fructose intolerance, which was something that was occurring more and more across Australia," he said.

Naked Life first launched with a range of soft drinks … Picture: Supplied
Naked Life first launched with a range of soft drinks … Picture: Supplied

"Because of her fructose malabsorption issue she couldn't have sugar and I had also recently started moving away from sugar too.

"I had always enjoyed soft drinks but they were one thing I had to completely give up because there was nothing that fit the bill for us."

But he said while the sugar-free movement had been growing in recent years, it was still a challenge to translate that trend into sales.

"The timing seemed perfect, but there's a difference between what people say they want, and what they actually buy. They are two very different things," he said.

… Before expanding into tonic water … Picture: Supplied
… Before expanding into tonic water … Picture: Supplied

"There has been a strong groundswell (towards sugar-free) but I think people are also quite sceptical about something that's sugar and fat-free - but it all comes down to the taste.

"For us, that's the big thing - if it tastes really, really good, that's the only thing that will change people's minds."

He said a large part of the brand's success came down to its "nostalgia" factor, with drinks tasting like childhood favourites such as Coke bottle lollies and raspberry cordial.

He said it also worked because it gave health-conscious people an option to swap something they already enjoyed - such as fizzy drinks or icy poles - without having to give them up completely.

Mr Andrew said he had been mulling his business idea over for "quite a while" but that it only took around four months to get the products on the market once he finally made up his mind.

… And now icy poles. Picture: Supplied
… And now icy poles. Picture: Supplied

"There are 8.1 million diabetics in Australia and that's growing. Kids have a real emotional connection to icy poles and we've found a lot of parents are so happy to find something their child can have without being ostracised and left out," he said.

Millions of Sugar Free-zies icy poles have been sold across the country already, with the majority being snapped up from Woolworths supermarkets.

However, they are now going global too, with the products also being sold through international distributors.

The company has also launched The No Nasties Icicle Project, which aims to remove 500 tons of sugar per year from Australian diets and pledges to donate $100 for every one-ton of sugar removed from the category to non-profits raising awareness around better food choices.

 

Continue the conversation @carey_alexis | alexis.carey@news.com.au


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