All hail Amanda Barber - without her we'd never be sipping on summer
Thirty years ago Rio sprang into our lives! We chat to Rio creator Amanda Barber to find out how our favourite lightly sparkling soft drink came to be …
What inspired the tropical taste?
Thirty years ago when we were looking at creating a new drink we looked at what was on the market, most of the competition seemed to be bound by citrus fruits. We wanted to do something fun and tropical, something slightly unusual to the market.
How was it unusual?
Well thirty years ago all of these tropical fruits weren’t actually even in the stores. They truly were exotic. You’d never just pop out and expect to see a mango in your corner shop - very different to current day! Also we knew that we wanted to be different to the other manufacturers who mainly seemed to create drinks using only two fruits. We wanted it to be a taste explosion of exotic fruits.
How long did it take to create the recipe for Rio?
No time at all - we measured out all of the ingredients and fruits that we wanted to include and our first attempt at the recipe turned out to be perfect. The right taste, the right consistency, the right aroma. It was amazing. Everything literally came together in a way that I’d never experienced before, and never have since. For our first trial to be that successful was amazing. Over time we’ve released different flavours, a Mediterranean one, a citrus one, even an oriental one, however not one of the variations has been as popular as the original.
Looking back everything about Rio has kind of been natural, the brand has almost chosen itself.
How has the process of making drinks changed since you created Rio?
Because the population is accustomed to having easy access to all of these fruits, it’s not been so much about introducing new fruit tastes to the market, it’s become more about the products.
So, instead of once saying: ‘we’re going to use pineapple as a fruit component’ it’s become more about ‘where does the pineapple come from? Is it sustainably grown? Consumers are much more savvy about process and story
So you really were light years ahead of the market trend today?
Yes with a real fruit crush as a base we’re still leading the market with the highest concentration of fruit content in a soft drink, coupled with the fact that it’s combined with lightly sparkling spring water, not synthetic lemonade to give it its beautifully tropical taste. It’s just magic really.
So where did the name come from?
Originally we called it Ariba which means ‘arrival’ - we wanted to give the sense that the tropical party had arrived, however at the time another drinks company had a product with a similar name so we had to think fast and change it.
‘Rio’ was thrown into the pot and just seemed to immediately embody the carnival-like energy of the flavours.
What do you think makes people fall in love with Rio?
I think it’s because everything at Rio naturally centres around positivity and happiness and people just want to be a part of that. They want a treat in their day that makes them happy, feel positive and smile. There’s even a smile in our logo which actually wasn’t planned at all but fits it perfectly.
We totally agree. A massive thank you Amanda from the bottom of our hearts for creating summer in a can!