A drink designed to strengthen both people and the planet


Rhona MacKenzie’s life as a drinks manufacturer started when she bought a lemon — not just one small citrus fruit but a Far North orchard full of them.

Words: Kate Coughlan

What did Rhona MacKenzie do when life served her up way too many lemons? British-born and educated Rhona (30-plus years a grateful New Zealand resident) bought a Far North citrus orchard and initially looked at making lemonade, as the adage would advise. However, the ingredient list and supply chain for shipping lemons to supermarkets made her mouth pucker. Her conclusion? It’d be far better to squeeze the juice into a lightproof pouch and sell it unadulterated. And that’s what she did in 2008, launching Lemon Fresh, now a supermarket staple (See NZ Life & Leisure, May/June 2011).

Since then, Rhona’s drive to create consumer products free of additives and delivering on promises (don’t get her started on false marketing claims of health benefits) has seen her add not just one but two brands to her portfolio. Her second consumer brand is Good Cocktail Co, an alcohol-free mixer living up to its name as a drink without added sugar.

Daily Immunity founder and owner Rhona Mackenzie works with organic ginger and turmeric grown at Ranadi Farms in Pacific Harbour, Fiji.

Three years ago, she set out to harness another story into a viable consumer drink brand. This one set her on fire, and not thanks to its ginger and turmeric components either. The whole vibe of the brand has not only Rhona excited but beverage judges in several countries who have so far awarded her latest brand, Daily Good, 15 medals … and counting.

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“What drives me is working with real ingredients, no additives, no preservatives, good packaging and smart branding. That’s what has carried Lemon Fresh through all these years.”

There’s nothing that Rhona loves more than hanging out at the supermarket and studying FMCG products (i.e. fast-moving consumer goods, particularly fresh products). She loves to understand where the market is going and what it wants; in recent years, she’s seen a great swell in demand for health-oriented products. When she heard her friend James Sweetbaum’s family story as a producer of Fijian-grown turmeric and ginger, her nose began to twitch.

Susana Dilo, with an abundant ginger rhizome, is one of many full-time employees on the property.

“It is not just any turmeric or ginger, but certified organic with the most fabulous story. James’ family has owned Ranadi Farms in a beautiful place on the coast of Fiji for more than 60 years. Generations of the same families have worked on the farm, grown up there, been educated and lived there. James’ family have always encouraged women into the business, and it now has a female CEO — she started as a labourer 20 years ago, and now she runs it.”

When Rhona learned the business had successfully been through the challenging process of USDA organic certification (the first producer in Fiji to achieve it) but was selling the output wholesale to multinational drinks manufacturers, her nose-twitching was replaced with incredulity.

“This is insane,” she told him. “You have an incredible product being sold in bulk without recognising any value for its quality or story.”

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Rhona understood that the Sweetbaum family’s goal was to have a genuinely beneficial impact on the lives of their Fijian people, so she told it straight: “If you want to have a real impact, you need to grow more, employ more and do more of what you are already doing. We must develop brands that will use this high-quality ginger and turmeric and pay its true value. Shall I get to it?” And with his enthusiastic approval, she did.

Daily Good Immunity Shots, made by Red Shoots (a partnership with James), comes in three options — all preservative-free, without dubious additives (“no names that consumers can’t pronounce nor anything with a number in it”, such as chemical preservatives) and made with organic ingredients.

“The supply chain for this product is completely insane, and I know it intimately. The planting calendar, the harvesting dates, the shipping schedule … it was being so connected with the supply chain that alerted me to the fact that even organic products must be sprayed on arrival in New Zealand with the fumigant methyl bromide.

“I wasn’t having that going into our pure drink. We had to find a way around it. Imagine all the effort going into producing an organic product, then covering it with a toxic chemical. Insanity. So, we freeze before shipment to avoid the spray.”

In Fiji, Valavia Cola works on the harvest of organic ginger and turmeric.

Daily Good Immunity Shots are available nationwide in Countdown, and just before the end of last year was accepted into 650 Coles supermarkets plus 200 Woolworth supermarkets across Australia. A launch into Britain is on the cards for 2024 (where it has recently won two medals in the UK Great Taste Awards).

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“To fulfil the Sweetbaum family commitment to the people of Ranadi farms, we need to scale this business beyond New Zealand. This market has been hard for us to crack. Is it the cost of the product? It is the same as one coffee a day, so it doesn’t seem so expensive for a high-value healthy product, but who knows? It is the international market that will make a difference in the lives of the farmers in Fiji. And that’s what I am going for,” Rhona says.

Daily Good Immunity

Shots are available in three tonics (Organic Fijian Ginger, Organic Fijian Turmeric and Organic Blackcurrant) with seven daily shots per 350ml bottle (recyclable glass, naturally).

The tonics also contain zinc, New Zealand mānuka honey and vitamin C to help decrease inflammation, aid digestion and deliver antioxidant benefits.

Rhona serves Daily Good Immunity Shots in a highball glass over ice, topped with soda as an alcohol alternative with health advantages.

“It looks beautiful and feels like a treat,” she says.

Gingernut Immunity Bliss Balls

What could be more blissful than knowing you’re getting an immunity hit and a delicious snack?

Recipe: @nourishandflourishsyd

INGREDIENTS

½ cup almond meal
1 scoop protein powder, optional
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon Daily Good Organic Ginger Immunity Shots

Topping:
20g dark chocolate (melted with 1 teaspoon coconut oil)
desiccated coconut

METHOD

Mix bliss ball ingredients together to form a dough. Roll into balls and top with melted chocolate and coconut.

Freeze for one hour to firm up. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.

NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.
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