Molson Coors Acquires Kombucha Maker

Purchase is second aimed at building a nonalcohol portfolio

CHICAGO -- Molson Coors took another step toward building a nonalcohol beverage portfolio with the purchase of Clearly Kombucha, a Fairfield, Calif.-based beverage maker with distribution in California, Colorado, Texas, Washington, Oregon and Montana. The deal closed June 1. Terms were not disclosed.

“We believe the kombucha category is in its early stages,” said Pete Marino, president of Tenth and Blake, Molson Coors' craft and specialty import division.

Kombucha is one of the fastest-growing segments in packaged beverages. The category is projected to have a compound annual growth rate of more than 23% from 2018 to 2024. Kombucha sales grew 47% in wholesale dollars in 2017, according to data from Beverage Marketing Corp., New York.

Clearly Kombucha, which makes six flavors of nonalcohol fermented tea beverages, will become part of the Molson Coors U.S. business, MillerCoors, and fold into Tenth and Blake.

“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,” Marino said.

The acquisition is another step by Molson Coors to build a nonalcohol portfolio; the company last year took a minority stake in Bhakti Inc., a Boulder, Colo.-based chai tea company.

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.

In a Facebook post, Clearly Kombucha said its leadership will “remain heavily involved in the business, crafting authentic fermented beverages while leveraging new and exciting expertise in developing great flavors, innovation and amplifying our portfolio of products to provide more options to more people in more places.”

Denver-based Molson Coors operates through MillerCoors in the U.S. MillerCoors is based in Chicago.

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