In 1997, a uniquely wholesome brand of water was born. When members of a small Kranskop community drilled down in search of water to meet the daily needs of community members, they could not have known that from it would spring one of South Africa’s purest and most beloved bottled water brands – aQuellé. aQuellé is a hybrid of the Latin word ‘aqua’, meaning water and the German word ‘Quelle’ meaning spring.
Found to be too pure for domestic use, the spring water “had to be bottled” and was introduced to the local market – with immediate and unexpected success. aQuellé introduced four South African flavours in 1998 and from being a local beverage player, aQuellé has grown to become a leading brand in the bottled water category in South Africa.
Today the aQuellé flavoured sparkling range includes: Naartjie, Litchi, Marula, Honey Melon, Lemon, Strawberry, Pineapple, Granadilla, Watermelon, Apple available in both 500 ml and 1.5 L. Apple, Raspberry and Orange make up the Flavoured Still range, enchanced with B vitamins for that extra boost you need for your The Still Natural Spring Water range is bottled in 500ml, 750ml with flip-top cap, 1.5L and 5L and the Sparkling Natural Spring Water in 500ml and 1.5L. A flavour size to cater for every South African’s taste today!
Reflecting on two decades as one of the country’s leading water brands, aQuellé managing director Arno Stegen said joy and thankfulness were the defining themes of the brand’s journey so far as well as 20-year celebrations. This market strategy has seen a sustained growth consumer demand, with the fully automated Kranskop plant continuously expanding from just 360m2 in 1998 to 18 000m2 today, and the addition of a second bottling plant in Franschhoek in 2016 to provide the Western Cape aQuellé’s natural spring water range. Whereas staff initially loaded product onto a few small bakkies by hand, aQuellé’s automated warehouse today has a 6,000-pallet storage capacity, with product distributed nationally via a dedicated fleet of delivery trucks.
“We are always looking at ways to bring efficiencies into the plant and through those efficiencies reduce costs. Normally, companies bring out annual price increases – we’ve been able to keep our pricing steady for two to three years at a time just by bringing in efficiencies that don’t affect the quality of the product,” said Stegen. “We do this because our aim is to keep on providing an affordable, value-for-money product offering for all.
aQuellé provides direct employment for about 310 people of which the majority come out of the local community. Management ensures workers are trained in the fields of machine operations, quality control and good manufacturing processes on an ongoing basis.
Stegen said people, and especially the brand’s community work, had always been the driving force or the “why” behind the business.
“The reason for our existence is our calling to help people in need and make their lives better. Therefore, by extension, aQuellé is not just about making profits but about giving the consumer a high-quality, affordable, value-for-money product.”
With aQuellé being ‘100% for people’, the company is firmly committed to uplifting the community and has the interests of people at heart.”
The brand marked its 20th anniversary by sponsoring various needy, rural communities with – among other things – fresh water in Hippo rollers.
“Many of our communities still do not have access to running water and have to draw water from nearby rivers for their daily needs,” said Stegen.
“The Hippo roller makes light work of transporting a 90-litre drum filled with water, instead of carrying multiple buckets back and forth every day. Working with community representatives, we identified vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly, who could most benefit from these pieces of equipment.”
Through related activities, aQuellé is involved in a broad spectrum of community projects, including supporting an HIV/Aids care centre and a local feeding scheme for orphaned children.
“Our aim was to say thank you to our consumers and to encourage a culture of being thankful,” said Stegen. This was carried through with a special “thank you” aQuellé product label in South Africa’s five mostspoken languages and a national radio and social media competition inviting consumers to share their personal, heartwarming stories about who they are thankful for and why.
The brand also provides fresh drinking water to the local community and is involved in various farming initiatives by assisting with equipment, materials and training of the local people in a wide range of farming skills.
aQuellé’s presence and involvement in community events and functions throughout the country as well as major sporting events has always been an important part of its brand building strategy. Each year they actively support outdoor events all over the country. Through this participation, aQuellé promotes a fun, wholesome lifestyle and allows thousands of competitors to enjoy an ice-cold aQuellé on the ideal occasion.
Title sponsorships aQuellé is involved with in KZN:
Stegen said aQuellé looked forward to bringing more real joy to South Africans over the next 20 years.
aQuellé Midmar Mile
aQuellé Mudman Series
aQuellé Tour Durban