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Brothers from Pakistan take curcumin from the turmeric root for ZYN drink

Monday, March 12, 2018   (0 Comments)
Journal Sentinel

Sarah Hauer


Brothers Qasim and Asim Khan think they're ahead of the market with a curcumin-infused drink line called ZYN. 

Curcumin is the biologically active component of turmeric, one of the spices in curry. The spice has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. 

"Turmeric got very trendy and buzzy," Asim Khan said.

Google search traffic for curcumin and turmeric has doubled in the past two years.

Some studies show curcumin is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and a neuroprotective. Consumers making "mindful choices" is one of the top beverage marketplace trends this year, according to a trade publication. 

The Shorewood-based business makes its curcumin-infused beverage with a proprietary blend that includes a black pepper fruit extract — piperine — to increase absorption.

The brothers' mission is "to bring ancient, time-tested healing to health-conscious consumers in the west." The idea is to build a national brand with the Sur Natural Health Brands LLC. 

ZYN comes in four flavors: lemon ginger, mango lychee, pomegranate cranberry and mixed berry. 

Each 16 fluid ounce bottle has two servings with 2 grams of sugar (there's some added cane sugar for sweetness) and 10 calories. More than 200 milligrams of curcumin is in every bottle. 

The drink hit the market in November, and ZYN beverages are now in more than 300 retail locations, the brothers said. Local grocery chains such as Sendik's Food Markets and Outpost Natural Foods and the regional grocery chain Hy-Vee stock the drink. ZYN also sells the product on its website, A four pack costs $27.50. 

The company does not disclose financial information. The brothers said ZYN has sold tens of thousands of bottles of the curcumin-infused beverage. ZYN drinks are produced at a facility in northern California. The turmeric is sourced from a solar-powered farm in India. 

Nutritionally positioned refrigerated juices and functional beverages were a $1.9 billion industry in 2017, up 6.1% from the prior year, according to the market research company IRI. There are few other drinks that incorporate the spice and play on its potential health benefits.

A trip to Pakistan in November 2016 sparked the idea for ZYN when a relative made a turmeric and olive oil paste for their father's diabetic nerve pain. The brothers wanted to create a healthy beverage that leverages the powers of curcumin. 

The Khan brothers grew up in Pakistan and moved to the United States in the mid-1980s. Both moved to Milwaukee to attend Marquette University. Each spent about 20 years working in finance, investment banking and private equity. 

After the trip, Qasim and Asim Khan started crafting recipes in their kitchens and trying out different flavors. The brothers said running a business together works because they each think about situations differently. 

"Qasim is more organized," Asim Khan said. "I'm more intuitive. Between the two of us, we get to a happy medium. We have disagreements but we realize that the end goal is the same."

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