Steep Soda Case Study
Innovus Engineering have helped a wide range of organisations who rely on canning as a core part of their business model, including some of the most innovative young companies in the sector.
Steep Soda are a good example of the new breed of beverage business. Formed in 2016 by Liam Willday and Laura Smith, Steep Soda has grown rapidly, becoming particularly popular in the Manchester area. One of the secrets of their success is their commitment to quality, as Liam explains:
“We make sodas with the best sourced fruit from the UK and Europe, working directly with farms to ensure our sodas are the freshest sodas. We use minimal sugar, approximately sixty-six percent less than traditional soft drinks, and our sodas are highly seasonal, showcasing the best flavours as they come into season.”
But increasing growth also requires the flexibility to respond to demand. In fact, demands for Steep Soda’s most popular beverages, hibiscus lemonade and ginger beer, was so strong that the company’s directors felt they needed to introduce new processing equipment to meet it. Like many beverage companies, they opted for canning, which, as Liam explains, offers many advantages:
“We initially contracted out a couple of batches of cans while bottling and we found our customers much preferred our cans as to the bottles. The cans are much more recyclable compared to bottles, and they are more convenient for the end customer. They are also much easier to distribute and courier, provide better protection from UV damage, and are generally a better way to store soda.”
Steep Soda approached Innovus in November 2018 with the intention of purchasing an automatic can-seamer to handle their production. Their timing was perfect! The managing director at Innovus, Matt Day, was able to advise them that Innovus were about to launch a new combined filler and seamer that would provide the ideal solution for Steep Soda’s canning needs.
An order was placed for the new 10FBEV machine, and following completion of the final design work, the unit was delivered to Steep Soda in March. And, according to Liam, the new machine had an instant impact on the company’s ability to catch up with demand:
“Since getting in the canning machine we have upped production from 300 litres a week to 1000 litres per week, with plans to double that capacity very soon! The canner is our first piece of professional packaging equipment, we have been able to refine our entire process, we now can package in a more consistent way while dealing with much larger volumes.”
With a growing demand to package cans, it was vital for Liam and Laura that they found a can seamer with proven double seam formation and a filler that was able to deliver low levels of dissolved oxygen. The load cells on the filler module of the new 10FBEV machine have also enabled Steep Soda to achieve accurate and consistent fill levels. Additionally, the 10FBEV is designed for ease of use and to make maintenance and cleaning easy, qualities that Liam says have helped production:
“The machine is extremely easy to use, and simple to maintain and clean. It also feels quite quick as you are able to achieve some consistency and rhythm to the operation.”
The new canning machine from Innovus has not only enabled Steep Soda to meet their existing demand, it has also made it possible for them to expand. In fact, their canning operation has been so successful, that they have abandoned the bottling process completely in favour of canning, which has helped them to cut packaging and transportation costs.
The machine has also equipped Steep Soda with the flexibility to produce special products to supplement their core range. In May, they launched a new spiced rum cola drink, in conjunction with Manchester Still Inc, the first of many new products that Liam says the company hopes to develop:
“We are focused on getting up to producing 2000 litres per week. We want to make more special one off sodas and collaborations. We’re working with local businesses to make new cool flavours that are a little off the beaten path.”
Steep Soda have been recognised for their recent success with a nomination for artisan drinks producer of the year at Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2019. And thanks to the new 10FBEV canning machine from Innovus, Steep Soda have the flexibility and production capacity to build on their success and grow throughout the UK market.