Earlier this week, there was some controversy around Alvaro, the popular new malt-based non-alcoholic drink currently being test-marketed in Kenya by Diageo and East African Breweries Ltd (EABL) before going worldwide. A Kenyan MP alleged that the drink contained alcohol and was a major cause of students going on the rampage in secondary schools. But the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) was quick to ascertain that Alvaro doesn't contain any alcohol at all.
Alvaro is branding and marketing itself as "the non-alcoholic, natural alternative". Alvaro is targeted at adult consumers aged 24-35 years and comes in two flavours: pear and pineapple. Yes indeed, flavours. And that's where the problem lies, since there is nothing natural about flavours. I had a look at the ingredients, as stated on the bottle: Carbonated Water, Sugar, Malt Compound, Citric Acid, Pineapple Flavour, Phosphoric Acid, Tri Sodium Citrate, Coloured Malt Extract, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Quillaja Extract. There is a major difference between Pineapple, Pineapple Juice or Pineapple Pulp on the one hand and Pineapple Flavour on the other hand. The former are originating from the pineapple fruit itself, while the latter is just another chemical. So there is nothing natural about Alvaro. Alvaro: unique, maybe - but natural, surely not.