White label drinks – How to create a private label brand

February 13, 2024

How to create a private label brand

Expert guidance on how to develop or grow a private label drinks brand

It’s easy to see why businesses have such an appetite for the food and drinks industry. Valued at £104.4bn*, it is the largest industry in the UK’s manufacturing sector.

Despite recent years being challenging for many businesses, the industry grew by 8% from 2020 to 2021, according to stats from DEFRA**. And beverages contributed £6.5bn overall that year, more than any other sub-category, at 21.4% of total food and drink manufacturing.

So how can businesses take a bite out of this market?

For growing drink brands or established businesses seeking to grow existing brands, we’ve developed this expert guidance on how to create a private label brand.

We cover:

  • Concept – Your idea, + Your Product Specification & the Development Brief
  • Considerations – Your Business Plan & Budget, + Your Route to Market, & Packaging
  • Tips – How to choose a Drinks Manufacturer to work with
  • Insights – How an established Drinks Manufacturer operates


Your Idea

It all starts with a good idea. Typically, new ideas for drinks or syrups will be inspired by wider market factors. You might be influenced by the latest drinks trends, consumer fashions, or popular flavours – such as the desire for escapism, the rise in NoLo drinking, or citrus flavours for summertime, respectively.

NoLo Beverages

Sometimes new isn’t necessary, though. There is a wealth of tried and tested favourites you can take inspiration from, including the established drink types or best-selling flavours that already have mature markets and hold mass appeal.

Or there could be a popular product already on the market you want to match to. The right expertise could enhance an existing offering, while the most up-to-date market understanding could make an established product’s price point or position more accessible or appealing to a new target market.

Whichever way you’re approaching idea creation, you will need to consider your target market. What kinds of consumers will want your product and how will you reach them? How, where and when do they buy drinks, what appeals to or motivates them, and what will they spend?

Your Product Specification & the Development Brief

Armed with your idea, you can start to flesh out the product specification and development brief. This involves a few key principles around flavours, ingredients, sweeteners, colours, and functionality.

Will you develop your flavour using natural extracts or artificial? Does your target market prefer natural or artificial colours? And does your product typically sell best using sugar, artificial sweeteners, or natural sweeteners?

Choosing whether to go natural or artificial for your flavours, sweetness and colour lays the foundations for both the development brief and, later, product positioning and marketing messages.

Health Drinks

Your intended positioning and marketing will also influence product specifications around a drink’s functionality. Do you want your drink to offer functional and fortified ingredients to align with wider health and wellness trends? For example, caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone are the tried and tested ingredients for drinks to offer energy and vitality, while ginseng is a fast-growing alternative for energy boosts. And consumers are now familiar with the benefits of electrolytes like sodium, chloride and zinc, each offering extra hydration benefits.

These specifications will also influence your bottom line, particularly where sweeteners are concerned. Given the implications of the ‘sugar tax’, you may need to factor in the soft drinks levy. This is applied in two bands, at a rate of 18p per litre for drinks with more than 5g of sugar per 100ml, and 24p per litre for more than 8g per 100ml. However, it does not apply to juice drinks containing purely natural fruit sugars.


Your Business Plan & Budget

Your product specification will then influence your business plan and budget – or they may take precedence in influencing the product development stages. How will you be financing your project? Are there time restrictions or requirements for getting your product to market?

You’ll need to invest in your new product’s development, packing, placement and positioning, and distribution. This can add up to substantial investment once the following have been factored in:

  • Recipe development – sourcing ingredients, developing compounds, and testing different flavours and recipe combinations
  • Product positioning – establishing your branding and pricing structure, marketing and promoting the product, and identifying the best points of sale
  • Packing and packaging – finding the most efficient, environmentally sound and appealing packaging, and understanding the wants and needs of your target market
  • Distribution – getting your product to market in terms of both placement with online or traditional retailers, requiring listing fees and sales costs, and transport of goods to retailers and/or consumers.

Your Route to Market, & Packaging

Your route to market will be dictated by your target consumer, already identified and understood during product development.

Beverage Wholesalers

Will you sell wholesale, via retail outlets, or directly to consumers? Do you have existing contacts within the drinks industry and/or retail or e-commerce sectors you can leverage?

With a clear understanding of your target market and their buying and spending habits, you can start to calculate and forecast your volumes. How much do you need to sell, and how likely are you to sell via different outlets or routes?

This information allows you to find the right suppliers to work alongside for production, packaging, and marketing alike.

For trial production, for example: at Simpsons our minimum order quantity (MOQ) is 500l/flavour. This would make around 3,000l of a ready-to-drink product – a volume that, typically, is too high for a start-up project. And for packing: most bottling and canning runs require production volumes higher than this.

Private Label Bottling Facility

Packing will usually be via bottling or canning into PET or glass bottles, aluminium cans, or pouches. Each of these methods offers different benefits and capabilities around pack sizes, pack types and packing runs.

As well as being informed by your project budgets, target market and sustainability ambitions, decision-making for your packing method should also factor in the forthcoming Deposit Return Scheme (DRS). The scheme is intended to increase the recycling of PET bottles and cans through financial incentives for consumers.


“Turning your idea into reality requires all of the above, plus support from the right suppliers,” advises Caleb Simpson, managing director at Simpsons Beverages.

“We’ve been part of the UK’s drinks industry for 90 years now, becoming a leader in the creation of drinks flavours and compounds.”

“We’re renowned for our unwavering commitment to innovation – the spirit of our business is embodied by ingenuity and creativity.”

“With a passion for pushing boundaries and re-imagining the art of beverage crafting we have fostered a culture that embraces curiosity, experimentation, and a relentless pursuit of new ideas.” Based on sound research and experience.

How to choose a Drinks Manufacturer for your white label drinks brand

Finding the right drinks manufacturer and supplier for your private label drinks will be influenced by the three key factors:

  • Food safety – This is integral to good produce and is of paramount importance when developing and launching a new brand. Working with a BRCGS-certified supplier will ensure the highest standards for quality and safety. BRCGS is the global, British-led body that sets the Global Standard for Food Safety, so BRCGS-certified businesses can demonstrate that the way they produce, store, distribute and sell goods is in line with these standards.
  • Quality management – This is essential for good processes. Working with an accredited business, such as an ISO-accredited supplier, offers assurances of capabilities, culture and compliance. ISO 9001 holders, for example, can demonstrate that all systems and processes are compliant with the relevant regulations.
  • Reputation – This offers peace of mind regarding a supplier’s experience, trustworthiness and reliability.


Benefits of Simpsons as a supplier

Our clients benefit from our expertise, capacity, and environmental credentials.

We produce compounds and drink flavourings for white label drinks brands, offering a range of benefits for both businesses and consumers. For private label drinks brands, using compounds means there is only one ingredient to source, limiting the need to manage multiple suppliers and creating cost savings and streamlined processes. For consumers, compounds can help to deliver healthier or safer products by reducing sugar or removing potential allergens.

Simpsons Beverages - New Site

Having recently expanded into a new facility, we have now tripled our production capacity. Working from our purpose-built innovation centre, our team of highly skilled NPD experts can help you formulate new drink concepts or emulate existing products.

We source raw materials from the top flavour houses and manufacturers, only working with GFSI-certified (certifications recognised by the Global Food Safety Initiative) suppliers to ensure the highest quality. We are also BRC and ISO accredited, holding ISO 9001 for Quality Management, IS0 14001 for Environmental Management, and ISO 45001 for Occupational Health & Safety. These assure our clients of our performance, processes, and environmental protections. This includes despatching all compounds in reusable, recyclable Tosca bulk containers, to improve sustainability within our supply chain.

We can guide you through the complexity of industry compliance needs and regulations too. And in the case of urgent projects, we can turn around new samples within just 2-3 days. Our expertise also extends to being able to cost engineer projects and knowing how to refine the processes behind a product to deliver required price points.

How we work with private label drinks brands

We start by booking in a scoping call to learn as much as possible about your goals, any existing products, and new project parameters. Using this information we’ll start to develop a product brief, using your product specification and project budget to recommend ingredients and processes. We’ll then arrange face-to-face meetings, running development days for you to test recipes and to allow us to deliver live adjustments as required. We can also accommodate tasting sessions at your location. Once we’ve confirmed the recipe, flavours, costs, and processes are right for your project, we can commence production for you to take your product to market.

Chat to us today

At Simpsons, we keep on top of all the latest and emerging drinks trends, allowing us to develop new products to ensure our customers are first movers in their categories. We can work with you to develop and manufacture your white label drinks and beverages.

For more guidance on how to create a private label brand, or to start on your new project, chat to our team today.


*Food and Drink Report, Department for Business & Trade

**National statistics, GOV UK DEFRA

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