Honest Tea Founder May Have Good News For Grieving Fans

Fans of the ready-to-drink tea brand Honest Tea were plunged into grief two weeks ago when it was announced that the brand would be phased out of production by the year's end. This decision was made by the brand's owner, the Coca-Cola Co., who claims that they will instead focus on their own Gold Peak and Peace Tea brands instead, per Food Business News.

The successful tea brand was launched back in 1998 by founders Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff, per Honest Tea. The two saw an opportunity to create a drink brand that had less sugar, without sacrificing flavor, and Honest Tea was born. The drink took off. In just ten years, the brand saw more than $38 million in sales, and the Coca-Cola Co. decided to invest in 40% of the company. In 2011, those sales had doubled, and Coca-Cola bought the brand to continue production as an independent operator under their oversight.

Coca-Cola Co. then announced in 2018 that they were seeking to streamline their operations by shrinking the number of brands in operation to focus on the most profitable, and fastest growing, per Food Dive. Despite these troubling signs, co-founder Goldman says he never anticipated Honest Tea would be one of the discontinued brands. Luckily for fans, Goldman says that he plans to launch a new tea brand that will hold onto many of Honest Tea's same standards and values.

Original founders to launch new brand

Food Dive reports that Goldman is now working with his Honest Tea co-founder Barry Nalebuff and chef Spike Mendelsohn to create a new ready-to-drink tea brand. Goldman wrote an emotional LinkedIn post about the discontinuation that was viewed by 1.2 million users, showing the resonance that a brand like Honest Tea still has in the market, and Goldman wasn't ready to let that die. The name of the new brand is still unknown, but Food Dive reports that it will be launched under the Eat the Change banner, a line Goldman and Mendelsohn launched together two years ago to sell a line of nutrient dense and eco-friendly snacks, per Food Dive.

Though Coca-Cola is no longer interested in the product, they are unwilling to give up the Honest Tea name. They are still continuing to sell Honest Kids, a line of juices, and didn't give Goldman the opportunity to purchase the brand name, according to the outlet. This was likely done to avoid similar, competing brand names on the ready-to-drink tea and coffee market, which is expected to reach $167.88 billion by 2030, per a report by Grand View Research

Goldman says that he never would have wanted to rival Honest Tea, but seeing the void it leaves in the market has inspired him to return. "I never would compete against Honest tea. It's still my baby. But if Honest tea is being discontinued, I have to address that," Goldman told Food Dive.