News, Insights and Stories from the Australian and New Zealand tech ecosystem.

The startup fighting childhood obesity

Sian Leonard is a mum on a mission to eradicate child obesity around the world, starting from New Zealand and now Australia.

With obesity being one of the leading causes of death in Australia, and children increasingly becoming victim to dangerous food habits, Water Buddies’ low-sugar beverage range provides a healthier alternative for parents wanting to be proactive about their child’s health.

The business was launched in New Zealand in October 2012, and the beverage range is now available in more than 580 Woolworths supermarket stores and 500 independent supermarkets across Australia.

Water Buddies will soon also be on the shelves of some of Australia’s leading petrol and convenience distributors.

Leonard says the idea was born after exhausting the options to get her own children to drink water; and after one too many sugary drink meltdowns she created Water Buddies.

The beverages contain New Zealand spring water with natural flavours and 1.8 percent sugar (80 percent less than most fruit juices).

“The Australian beverage market is heavily dominated by high sugar fruit juice and fizzy drinks but what we’re seeing is parents who are becoming increasingly concerned about what their kids are eating and drinking and they’re looking for healthier alternatives for their families,” says Leonard.

Ten months after its launch in New Zealand, and over one million bottles sold, Water Buddies is swimming its way to the top of the Australian health food sector.

“Our fast growth into the Australian market has been a real game-changer for our business, propelling us into a multi-million dollar operation overnight,” says Leonard.

“During the next year we aim to grow distribution, gain solid market share and quickly cement our position as the number one kids’ water range in Australia.”

Water Buddies has partnered with the Bank of New Zealand and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, “who took the time to understand our business and continue to work closely with us to offer unique solutions which meet our ongoing needs between New Zealand and Australia.”

Leonard stresses the importance of entrepreneurs giving back to the community and working towards effecting social change.

“We can’t sit back and expect Government to provide the solution to every problem facing our communities,” she says.

“Obesity is one of the major threats to Australia’s health system and, as a beverage manufacturer, we have a responsibility to do what we can to overturn this trend.”

Leonard says the business is also gaining international momentum, with leading entities in China, Hong King, Korea, UK, Canada and the US showing a keen interest in selling the beverage range.

She says the expansion into Australia was the first logical step towards making Water Buddies a global brand.

Beyond profits, Leonard’s end goal is “to see a reduction in the childhood obesity statistics and for Water Buddies to be loved and trusted by parents and kids.”

To see the product range, visit Water Buddies website.

Startup Daily