Home » Guilt-free drinking and the emerging alcohol-free market in the MENA: A chat with Wild Idol CEO Paul Beavis

Guilt-free drinking and the emerging alcohol-free market in the MENA: A chat with Wild Idol CEO Paul Beavis

by Mohammad Ghazal

Conscious hedonism might sound like an oxymoron, but according to Wild Idol CEO Paul Beavis, the two terms are more compatible than you might first think.

ESG Mena spoke to Beavis to learn more about his company’s non-alcoholic sparkling alternative, the importance of embedding sustainability at each stage of production, and how people can balance pleasure and environmental protection.

Paul, tell me about why you launched Wild Idol and your product offerings.

I was interested in how we could create something in a brand-new category that hadn’t existed before. We were passionate about making an authentic non-alcoholic sparkling alternative in both rosé and white editions that would be totally inclusive and would give people a healthy lifestyle choice.

With Wild Idol, there was an opportunity to create something that hadn’t been done before and to venture into an area where there was no roadmap to copy or reinvent.

And why did you choose the name “Wild Idol”?

It’s a lovely play on words, representing a celebration of nature. ‘Wild’ to express our relationship to nature in all its wild beauty, using only natural elements and processes to craft Wild Idol. Meanwhile, an Idol is iconic in its nature and a representation to be respected.

Many don’t realise that a large percentage of wine is not vegan due to filtration during the winemaking process. How is Wild Idol different?

Wild Idol uses only natural ingredients and doesn’t allow the fermentation process to occur, producing one of the purest alcohol-free sparklings on the market. We don’t use any fining agents in the process, and therefore, we can reassuringly say we are vegan-friendly. Wild Idol is also Halal-certified, which is key to the Middle East audience.

As a brand, we only focus on the purest of processes, and we refrain from adding extra mechanical layers. It’s our belief and passion as a brand to produce Wild Idol in the purest form, which means without alcohol and the need for a harsh removal process.

You talk a lot about ‘conscious hedonism,’ what does this mean to you, and how does it relate to sustainability?

Conscious hedonism is about enjoying your life and moments with loved ones in a state of full awareness. We don’t demonise alcohol at all, we are merely offering an alternative for people to enjoy celebratory moments with the purest alcohol-free sparkling that exists.

Our sustainability message is about how we can give back and do our part in the process. Our pledge to 1% for the Planet includes our commitment to utilising the most sustainable glass bottles we can, using natural soy ink on our labels and Diam corks which are also one of the most sustainable corks in the world. We are fully committed to reducing our carbon footprint, and that remains an ongoing plan.

Can you tell me more about your membership of 1% for the Planet?

It is a commitment we are making to supporting the right charities to ensure sustainability in all fields is being resourced.

As a start-up company, it’s a huge commitment to provide 1% of our revenues, but we firmly believe it is the right thing to do, and we hope as the business grows, so will our financial support.

Would you characterise your wine as sustainable? If so, how do you manage this throughout your growing, manufacturing, and distribution processes?

We have embarked on our sustainability journey by only working with the most sustainable dry goods producers who can help support our mission. A great example of this is in our growing manufacturing and distribution process, which relates to our special project we completed with a unique English winery.

We are the first company to create a naturally produced sparkling English alcohol-free rosé and white. We were asked by the head of a very prestigious UK catering company to produce something that could be served at the world’s finest tennis tournament but would also support the company’s mission of being true innovators within the industry.

Drawing from this, how are you promoting circularity in the business?

We promote circularity as best as we can by working with two of the most wonderful English wineries who insist on deploying resources back into the local communities. Our glass bottles are all recycled, and the corks we use are Diam, which is fully recyclable, unlike standard corks. We are also using recycled cardboard for our packaging.

And does Wild Idol employ regenerative viticulture at its vineyards?

We don’t own vineyards ourselves at this stage, but it is something we will be looking into for the future. This would include using the indigenous varietals from the region, something that was paramount in our decision to work with the right vineyard principles.

For example, our UK style was made with Bacchus and Chardonnay – and our partners in the Rheinhessen have been focusing on Muller Thurgau.

How would you say the non-alcoholic wine market is maturing globally and in the region?

The growth in the non-alcoholic market appears to be much faster than the low-alcohol market. The category is still embryonic, however, the growth is strong, and we love being part of its development.

There will be global hotspots for this category, and overall, the most important thing is to ensure people can navigate their way around the emerging category and understand that alcohol-free can be to a high-quality standard.

In addition, people’s lives are continuously changing, and we are all becoming more aware of the effects of alcohol and how we can adapt.

How is the product being received in the Middle East?

It is early days, but the signs are extremely positive so far. We are receiving such wonderful feedback on the taste, look and feel of the brand and we are very excited about the prospects.

There are key times of the day and locations where people are eager to experience Wild Idol, such as casual dining, food pairings, afternoon tea and pool or beach occasions.

Wild Idol is currently stocked at key restaurants and venues in Dubai, including Amazonico, Atlantis The Royal, Caesars Palace and Nammos, as well as MMI stores across Dubai.

And what’s on the horizon for Wild Idol?

We aim to continue to build positive momentum for the brand and help educate and enthuse the global markets that alcohol-free can be made well and taste exceptional. We are continuously looking to improve all aspects of the business, and the old adage that success is a journey comes to mind, and we have to sweat the small stuff.

Wild Idol has been in the market for less than 18 months, but I sincerely hope we are making huge strides in introducing customers to a new way of celebrating but without the side effects.

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