MOLSON COORS ACQUIRES CALIFORNIAN KOMBUCHA BRAND
by Lauren Eads
US brewer Molson Coors has strengthened its position in the non-alcoholic drinks market with the acquisition of California’s Clearly Kombucha, which produces a range of organic, gluten-free, vegan and kosher fermented tea beverages.
Clearly Kombucha will become part of the Molson Coors US business, MillerCoors, within its craft and specialty import division, Tenth and Blake.

Clearly Kombucha was founded in 2010 by Ali Zarrow and Caleb Cargle, who will remain with the company and report to a new general manager, Maria del Rio, who is on the Molson Coors global innovation team.

“We believe the kombucha category is in its early stages,” said Pete Marino, president of Tenth and Blake, in a note to distributors. “Molson Coors, MillerCoors, and Tenth and Blake are ideally suited to help Clearly Kombucha grow in the years ahead by driving greater awareness, strengthening its brand reputation and boosting retail availability.”

Kombucha is a variety of fermented, lightly fizzy, sweetened black or green tea drink believed to have health benefits, particularly in relation to digestion.

It’s made by fermenting tea using a culture of bacteria and yeast, which typically includes Saccharomyces, which is also used in winemaking.

The exact origins of kombucha are not known, but it is thought to have originated in northwest China.

Kombucha is one of the fastest-growing segments in non-alcoholic beverages, with the category is projected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of more than 23% from 2018 to 2024.

This acquisition follows Molson Coor’s purchase of a minority stake in Bhakti Inc., a Boulder, Colo.-based chai tea company, demonstrating its continued focus on strengthening its presence in the non-alcoholic drinks market.

All of Clearly Kombucha’s products are certified organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan and kosher, and already distributed in California, Colorado, Texas, Washington, Oregon and Montana.

The deal closed June 1. Financial terms were not disclosed.

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