Liam Watson, 26, has launched the Canny brand, which currently features strawberry, chocolate, banana and vanilla shakes, which are aseptic, so can be transported at ambient temperatures, and which include all natural flavors.
From kitchen to shelves
Canny – a northeast UK term meaning shrewd or intelligent - started when Watson, who is a herbalist, decided to transfer his love of creating things at home, into a business.
“I manufactured herbal medicine, supplying the local area, then supplying stores over the UK, Amazon, Tesco, and independents, and the whole time I drank flavored milk, and there wasn’t anything totally natural, that used plants, so I decided to make one,” Watson told DairyReporter.
“It started in my kitchen: make it, drink it. I started this 18 months ago, but the product has only been out 12 weeks.”
The plan, said Watson, is “to have a good time, speak to loads of people, and try to get our drinks into as many people’s hands as we can. We’re not a huge company, it’s about making the best drink we can, the most natural flavored milk available in the UK, and getting people to try it.”
Natural flavors and thickeners
Watson said it’s the most natural flavored milk on the market in the UK.
“Everybody else fail on one of two areas, either coloring or thickness. People often say made using natural ingredients, but that doesn’t mean it’s 100% natural, but we are. For the chocolate, we use cocoa mass, which has anti-oxidant properties, the banana is real banana, there are vanilla seeds in the vanilla. It’s all thickened with plants and colored with fruits and vegetables for the shakes. It has the shortest ingredients list you can get! We’re totally transparent.”
Watson said the packaging will constantly change also to keep people engaged.
Sales trip to India
It’s been a whirlwind for Watson, who is about to embark on a trip to India, thanks to UK Trade & Investment.
“I go to India next week. Because of how it’s made, it’s not affected by heat, so for them it’s huge, and with it being British milk, they love it,” he said.
As for future growth, Watson said, “I’d like to be in Waitrose, maybe, but that would be it, for 18 months the focus is independence, coffee shops, a few small chains. I don’t want to be in the big places yet, it would take the fun out and you’d lose control.”