NEW YORK, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Coca-Cola Co. purchased 40 percent of Honest Tea for $43 million and holds an option to buy the company outright in three years, it was reported Wednesday.
Coke, through its Venturing and Emerging Brands unit, which it formed in 2007, "is working very hard to build up its portfolio of non-carbonated brands," John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest, told USA Today.
Coke spent $4.1 billion purchasing Vitiminwater last May. The company has also purchased Fuze drinks and Brain Twist, a bottled coffee brand, the report said.
Industry trends indicate declines in carbonated beverages consumption in recent years -- down 6 percent for the first nine months of 2007. Sales at Honest Tea, a 10-year old company featuring organic teas, increased 70 percent in 2007 over its 2006 sales and bottled tea sales in general rose 24 percent for the first three quarters of 2007.
Honest Tea, with headquarters in Bethesda, Md., adds both low-calorie and organic products to Coke's standard offerings, USA Today said.