Chia Sisters started as a concept 10 years ago when Chloe Van Dyke began her research to create the best drink to produce long-lasting natural energy and hydration. After two years of research and testing, the well-known Chia superfood drink was born.

A sustainable idea borrowed from beer

When sustainable drinks company Chia Sisters realised commercial customers were using hundreds of single-use plastic containers a week for the likes of hotel guests at breakfast buffets, the solution was simple yet unexpected.

Chia sisters video cover

Marketing Manager Abbie Tebbutt says they looked at the beer industry for inspiration for a problem involving the containers from big juice companies.

All that waste from those single-use plastic bottles was ending up in landfill. New Zealand has a waste crisis and we need to be doing more about that.
Abbie Tebbutt, Marketing Manager

"So, we looked into other industries. As far as we’re aware, no one is supplying juice in kegs, but it’s normal to supply beer this way. So we thought: ‘It could be a game changer for juice too’.”

The switch to providing its pressed juice from local fruit in kegs to hotels is another step on the Nelson-based company’s sustainability journey. It’s seen Chia Sisters win multiple accolades for sustainable business practice and become B Corp certified.

B Corp Certification is a designation that shows a business is meeting rigorous standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency, with Chia Sisters achieving the top five per cent of all B-Corps certified globally.

Chia Sisters started as a concept 10 years ago, when Chloe Van Dyke, a neuroscientist and medical herbalist, began her research to create the best drink for long-lasting natural energy and hydration.

After two years of research and testing, in collaboration with Callaghan Innovation, the well-known chia superfood drink was born, and sister Florence joined Chloe in the venture. Since then, the range has extended into tonics, superfood smoothies, a pressed juice and sparkling range.

Kiwibank Head of Sustainable Finance, Tom Williams, who's also based in Nelson, says he first became aware of Chia Sisters when he started seeing the brand’s drinks in supermarkets, health food stores and cafes. Then he started hearing about their strong sustainability story and concluded they would be a good match for Kiwibank.

“There's already a natural alignment between us. Kiwibank is a B Corp and purpose-led business too,” he says.

He also saw the business as having a lower risk profile because of its focus on sustainability. “More often than not, businesses that put a lot of focus on sustainability will see that show up in their strategy and reduction in risk.”

He respects the impressive business leadership shown by the Van Dyke co-founders, and their innovative and relentless approach to sustainability.

It's pretty amazing they recognised that businesses like hotels and bars already use kegs, but only for alcohol. Why not use it for other things? It's a benefit for everyone.
Tom Williams, Kiwibank Head of Sustainable Finance

Williams says Chia Sisters is a perfect example of the bank’s ongoing mission to make sure all businesses can access sustainable finance when they need it.

Any business focused on improving sustainability practices is naturally aligned with Kiwibank; we are focused on making sustainable finance available to all Kiwi businesses through lower lending rates which reward sustainability improvements.
Tom Williams, Kiwibank Head of Sustainable Finance

“We’re really proud to have helped this Kiwi business with amazing leaders who have created something from nothing. They had an idea of creating a nutritious drink, and it's grown from a pure chia range to health drinks and juices. Now they're taking it to the world,” says Williams.

Chloe says Chia Sisters and Kiwibank are both values-driven companies working to do business in a way that has a positive impact on people and the planet.

Van Dyke says Kiwibank has acknowledged the steps that Chia Sisters has taken to incorporate sustainability into its business model, such as becoming solar-powered, measuring and reducing carbon emissions and paying its team the living wage or higher.

“These steps have strengthened Chia Sisters' resilience. Kiwibank has recognised that this makes our business a lower risk and more likely to succeed in the long term - which is reflected in a lower interest rate in the form of sustainability-linked lending.”

As Chia Sisters plan for growth in neighbouring Australia and the United States, Van Dyke says the company is focusing on strengthening its relationships with like-minded key players that will support the business in that journey.

“For us, doing business with values-aligned partners is important. We’re on the same journey – and that’s important in a banking partner.”

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