After becoming teetotal, Suppey found there was a lack of options for people who wanted to have a stronger drink but didn’t want alcohol. It was from this desire to create a drink for when you aren’t drinking that Ppinger was born.
Drawing from his Ghanaian routes, Suppey created a drink that draws on strong flavours used in his grandmother’s cooking while balancing out the heat with subtle hints of fruits such as lime and apple.
“Drinking is all about experiences,” he explained. “Literally speaking, we don’t need to drink Coca-Cola or the Ppinger or any other drinks to survive – all we really need to survive is water. But variety is the spice of life, people always want to experiment with something new.
Open to experimentation
To that end, Ppinger sets itself up as a drink that open for experimentation – and not necessarily just in the realm of non-alcoholic drinks.
“We’ve had people mix it with rum, with vodka, with gin – a variety of things,” Suppey added.
However, choosing to use ginger as the base for the drink did present its own set of problems for the small business. As it stands, Suppey has been unable to find a co-manufacturing partner to juice the ginger, leading him to complete the process himself.
“It can be messy – sometimes you think you’ve got it all right and then you see a [solid] piece of ginger [during the production process],” said Suppey. “So, we’ve developed a process to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“Coming from a financial services background of 20 years and currently making it ourselves in a small factory, we’ve had lots of challenges, getting used to operating the machinery – I think the labelling machine was the most notorious of all of them.”
Learning on the job
“There are times a problem would take us 15 minutes to solve today, but in the early days you would be at those problems for 3 hours.”
Suppey went on to discuss his business’s experience trading during the COVID-19 pandemic, a period that has seen several drinks firms struggle with the loss of on-trade.
With the business only starting at the end of 2019, Ppinger was launching into a the market without any of the hang-ups of lost contracts or supply chain disruption. Suppey and his team could choose who and where he supplied his drinks to, could circumvent COVID-19 disruption by steering clear of the problem areas of the market affected by it.
“Ignorance is bliss,” he exclaimed. “While we prepared to launch we continued selling to friends and family who demanded it. Having seen restaurants were closed, we had to go and look for convince stores, independently owned takeaways – low hanging fruit where you call speak directly to the owner and get a quick decision.
“That has become the base of our operation in terms of sales, as well as selling directly online. Those two channels have become our bread and butter.”