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Dash Water: turning wonky veg into wonky water

Dash Water: turning wonky veg into wonky water

by Great British Chefs 15 August 2017

After years spent working in the soft drinks industry, Alex Wright and Jack Scott decided to use their knowledge to create something that was both healthy and tackled the issue of food waste. We caught up with them to find out more.

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Food waste has always been a huge issue in restaurant kitchens, supermarkets and homes. While it’s always been in the back of people’s minds, recently there’s been a real surge of interest in how chefs, charities and producers are tackling the problem. It’s now become a badge of honour for brands and cooks to take perfectly edible ingredients that are destined for the bin and turn them into something people want.

Dash Water is one of those brands. A new company, they sell cans of carbonated spring water infused with wonky fruit and veg. It comes in two flavours – lemon (with a touch of lemongrass thrown in to keep it interesting) and cucumber, which offers something a little bit different. Founders Alex Wright and Jack Scott work with charities such as Feedback, British farmers and food suppliers to take produce that’s too ugly, wonky or misshapen to go to the shops. Instead of being thrown in the bin, they use it to infuse flavour into their drinks.

‘We both come from farming backgrounds so we’ve seen first-hand how bad food waste can be – around thirty percent of all fruit and veg grown in the UK ends up being wasted,’ says Alex. ‘We got the idea for Dash about two years ago when we were both working at Cawston Press; we’d bring a bottle of water into work infused with fruits or vegetables every day and realised there wasn’t anyone offering the same thing in shops. There aren’t any calories, sugars or sweeteners, and being able to use surplus fruits and vegetables to flavour it was a no-brainer.’

FoodTalk

Find out more about Dash Water and how Alex and Jack tackle food waste by listening to them on The FoodTalk Show Podcast.

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Dash comes in two flavours – lemon and cucumber – and there are plans to expand the range in the future
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Alex and Jack work with British cucumber farmers to use up wonky vegetables that don't meet supermarket standards

After a Dragon’s Den-style meeting with Virgin StartUp, Alex and Jack were given a small loan and a mentor who taught them all the practical skills needed to set up a brand and business. The next step was actually working out how to create a carbonated, canned soft drink that had the same taste as water infused at home without any extra additives or flavourings.

‘We didn’t want to go to a big flavour house and get them to work out the recipe, which is how it’s normally done,’ explains Jack. ‘It was hard because no one had really created a drink using an infusion process like this one before. Luckily we met a guy called Philip Ashurst in Shropshire who helped us work it all out.’

Once Alex and Jack had sourced their fruit and vegetables, found a good supply of water from Staffordshire and teamed up with a canning company in Herefordshire, they were ready for a soft launch, with the pair going round parks in London to get as much feedback as they could. ‘We realised people really care about using wonky fruit and veg that would usually end up going in the bin,’ says Alex. ‘That was something we were passionate about but we didn’t make it obvious on our packaging – so it was really important feedback to receive.’

Dash Water officially launched two months ago, after Alex and Jack secured a listing with Selfridges. Today, the cans are sold in around 150 shops across London, including places like Planet Organic and Daylesford Farm Shops. They’re sticking with just the two ingredients for now, but the plan is to start incorporating as much surplus produce from British farmers as possible, creating new, seasonally-led flavours. For health-conscious foodies who are strapped for time, Dash certainly fits the bill.

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