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Lifting the lid on 'Natural Flavours'

Are “natural” flavours actually natural? If you are like us, you have probably asked yourself this question as you scan the supermarket shelves and back panel of a food or drink product. 


It feels as though it has become increasingly difficult to determine what is actually in a product, with many additives hiding behind numbers and generic terms. 


When we set out to create Mama’s Kombucha, we wanted to create a product that was organic, raw and most importantly, used real ingredients. Real flavour made from real botanicals and herbs. This way, the booch was not only infused with the richness of flavour straight from the source, but also retained nutritional compounds associated with these ingredients. 


So when we started to see an increasing number of “natural” flavours creeping into the market, we wanted to understand what these were actually made from. Surely if an ingredient includes the word “natural”, that should be ok? Turns out, that isn’t always the case.


So what makes natural flavours different from artificial flavours? According to an article in Forbes, the main thing determining whether a flavour is natural or artificial is whether it has come from an edible source or not. Natural flavours are derived from edible sources (such as vegetables) while artificial flavours come from inedible sources (such as petroleum). Both are chemically extracted in the lab and according to the article, both hold no nutritional value. 


According to New Zealand labelling standards, most flavours can be labelled by their class name only. This means that brands don't need to detail the raw materials that a flavour is made from, which means consumers are often left in the dark as to what it is exactly where the flavour originates from and in turn, what they are consuming.  


At the end of the day, it comes down to making educated choices as to what we put into our body. We want to make it as easy for our customers as possible, that's why we use real flavour by incorporating real botanicals and spices into our brewing process. Having transparency around what goes into our products is just one of the things that makes Mama’s different.