“In Asia there’s a lot of academic research documenting the health benefits of Schisandra, but it’s not really well known in the US; it’s a fractured market,” Phil Kang, managing partner for Hyojongwon America, told BeverageDaily at the World Tea Expo.
Hyojongwon has been a grower of the Schisandra berry, or “omija” in Korean, for three generations where it is known in South Korea, China, and Japan for being high in antioxidants and providing detoxifying benefits.
“The Hyojongwon family controls about 75% of the market share of Shisandra so they’re able to expand and contract production based on demand,” Kang said.
Hyojongwon created its US sales and marketing business late last year in Washington D.C. and plans to use the east coast as its test market in 2017.
“We’ve trademarked the name ‘Omiberry’ for the Western markets,” Kang said explaining that the name Omiberry is more approachable to those unfamiliar with the berry.
The company will launch two RTD tea products in the US including Omiberry berry tea and sparkling berry tea, packaged in single serve 325ml glass bottles for an SRP of $2.99.
The company will be switching over to 425ml bottles realizing that the US consumers like bigger drinks, Kang added.
Omiberry is also introducing its Omiberry Syrup in 500ml bottles that can be used in craft cocktails at bars or as a topping to food items like ice cream.
"We’re basically trying to also promote our product as a flavor base (for other food and beverage producers)," Kang said.
Flavor positioning with health benefits
Schisandra Chinensis was classified in Asia as a medicine until 2005 where it still maintains a strong medicinal identity.
“It promotes blood circulation, women drink it for skin clarifying properties. It’s a detoxifying product as well so it helps the liver heal itself,” Kang said.
However, the company intends to reposition the tea in the US to communicate its flavor first to consumers.
“We want to focus on the health benefits of it, but we don’t want to make that the very first thing,” Kang said. “We want to position this as a flavor.”
The Schisandra Chinensis or “Omija” means “five flavor berry” in Korean because it imparts different tastes of sweet, sour, spicy, salty, and bitter, according to the company.
The tea is not overly sweet and contains no artificial coloring or flavoring, according to Kang.
“What we’re trying to do with Omiberry is not only get the brand out but also introduce the Western markets to the health benefits of Omija,” he added.