16 May 2024

4th VLB SAFB: So sour, so refreshing

Berlin | The VLB Symposium on Acidic Fermented Non-Alcoholic Beverages (SAFB) only takes place every two years. This year, it was time for the 4th edition, from 7–8 May 2024, at the VLB in Berlin. Organiser Dr Martin Senz was once again able to put together a varied programme, with talks on kombucha, kefir and other “funky” drinks.

Almost 100 participants mainly from European countries visited the symposium. In addition to Kombucha producers, these included scientists, as well as some well-known service providers, raw material suppliers and plant manufacturers from the brewing industry. Even a handful of traditional breweries sent representatives to find out more about fermented non-alcoholic beverages.

As is the custom at the SAFB, the atmosphere was very lively and open. The discussions that followed most of the presentations usually had to be postponed until the break – perhaps a result of the very different perspectives on beverage production, depending on the individual points of view. The term “probiotic”, for example, was sort of banned from the discussions during the course of the symposium – because, strictly speaking, “probiotic” is reserved for cases where a health-promoting effect has been proven for precisely the one strain used.

Good prospects for sour drinks

The market for sour fermented non-alcoholic beverages continues to receive good forecasts, although a certain consolidation can be perceived, as Kendra Sepulveda, Executive Director of Kombucha Brewers International (KBI), reported. A certain degree of professionalisation can be observed among new start-ups. This is, for example, the case with Monique and Marius Heberling from Erfrischerling, who focus on quality control throughout production and distribution of their non-pasteurised kombucha.

The VLB SAFB was once again a multifaceted event and provided a platform for an intensive dialogue between science and practice. Interest in high-quality, fermented beverages is still growing, so this niche in the beverage market will be something to watch closely over the next years.

There was CBC Pils on tap at the VLB SAFB get together

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