By Braun Jones, Partner, WWC Capital Group, LLC

When The Coca-Cola Company invested in Honest Tea in 2008 by buying 40% of the company, skeptics thought Honest Tea may be forced to follow a “big-food” industry strategy of stripping out costs resulting in lost quality or its “honest” organic methods and natural ingredients. Not so, says Seth Goldman, Honest Tea’s founder and TeaEO.

Seth spoke at ACG National Capital’s monthly meeting on Friday, May 21, to discuss Coca-Cola’s investment. During his presentation, he demonstrated how Coca-Cola has helped the company with marketing and distribution, as well as upgraded and expanded the scale of its manufacturing capability. Together, the companies are working hard to preserve Honest Tea’s production methods, culture, brand, and messaging. 

Honest Tea’s down-to-earth approach has made it a hit nationwide among consumers seeking a healthy, natural alternative to high-caloric soda and other heavily sweetened beverage choices made mostly from lab-manufactured ingredients. 

Since Coke’s investment, Honest Tea has actually increased its costs. The company has added to its list of Fair Trade certified tea varieties from three to 15. In addition, Honest Tea introduced new product lines, including Honest Kombucha, which is a particularly expensive drink to produce.

Here’s what Seth had to say:


In addition, several event attendees wrote their viewpoint regarding Seth’s presentation. A post on CSR Perspectives focused on how a company can acquire its way into sustainability. In the post, British Telecom’s Kevin Moss concluded:

“The acquisition delivers continued rebalancing of Coca-Cola’s portfolio and provides alternative and more sustainable routes for growth. … As long as Honest Tea is nurtured as a catalyst for further change, this acquisition will be a model for another way of enhancing corporate sustainability.”

See additional perspectives from the event here and here.

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