USA: Molson Coors buys kombucha maker

As of June 1, Molson Coors has acquired based Top Shelf Beverages, a company which operates a kombucha brewery in Fairfield, California and sells the products under the Clearly Kombucha and C Botanicals brands. Terms of the deal, which was carried out through Molson Coors’ craft and specialty import division, Tenth and Blake were not disclosed.

The acquisition follows the company's goal of building a strong non-alcoholic portfolio, moving Molson Coors closer to its 2025 target to "offer consumers exceptional quality no-alcohol and low-alcohol choices in 100% of the markets where we sell beer." Last year, the company took a minority stake in Bhakti Chai, an award-winning, India-inspired chai tea beverage company based in Boulder, Colorado.

Top Shelf Beverages was founded in 2010 by Alison Zarrow and Caleb Cargle, two Stanford University students, who were not satisfied with the vinegar-like taste of Kombucha at that time. Today Clearly Kombucha, the main brand, is sold in six varieties, including Asian pear, black currant, raspberry ginger, raspberry lemonade, strawberry hibiscus and ginger mint lemonade. The products are cold-filtered non-alcoholic fermented tea beverages with low sugar content that are U.S.D.A.-certified organic, Non-GMO Project verified, gluten-free, vegan and kosher.

The founders will remain in their positions with the company and will report to Molson Coors global innovation team general manager, Maria del Rio.

“We believe the kombucha category is in its early stages,” said Pete Marino, who assumed the role as president of Tenth and Blake, in September last year (, 13.7.2017). US retail sales of kombucha and other fermented beverages surged to $556 million last year, an increase of 37.4% year on year compared to a lackluster 1.2% of the overall non-alcoholic beverages market.

The top five Kombucha brands in the US include GT’s, KeVita, Health Ade, Brew Dr and Live Soda, which all achieved double-digit growth in 2017.

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