Starbucks enters the kombucha category via Evolution Fresh brand

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Starbucks enters the kombucha category via Evolution Fresh brand

Related tags kombucha Starbucks Evolution Fresh

Starbucks is entering the fast-growing kombucha category with a new line of organic products under its Evolution Fresh brand.

The new line – launching with six flavors – combines fermented tea with cold-pressed, high-pressure processed juices, and will be available in grocery and natural retailers in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle with plans to roll-out to additional cities this fall and next spring.  

“Evolution Fresh has a long-standing heritage in cold-pressed juice and we are continuing to deliver on our commitment to expand in the functional beverage category with the launch of Evolution Fresh Organic Kombucha,” ​said Evolution Fresh president Ryan Ziegelmann.

“We know our consumers are looking for beverages with functional benefits, and Evolution Fresh Organic Kombucha is just what they are asking for—a delicious and refreshing pick-me-up that also supports digestive wellness.”

SPINS: US retail sales of kombucha and other fermented beverages surged 37.4% in 2017

US retail sales of refrigerated kombucha and other fermented beverages surged 37.4% to $556m* in 2017, delegates were told at the 5th annual KombuchaKon conference​ earlier this year.

Speaking to assembled kombucha brands, equipment makers, ingredients suppliers, and fermented beverage enthusiasts at the event - organized by Kombucha Brewers International (KBI) - SPINS director of sales Bobbi Leahy said sales grew in double digits across all channels.

However, they were particularly strong (+46%) in the conventional (MULO) and convenience channel, which combined, now account for 69% of kombucha and other fermented beverage sales [eg. switchel, apple cider vinegar etc] compared with 53% in 2014 as the fermented tea beverage becomes more mainstream, she added.

"We've only just started looking at the consumer panel data to determine switching behavior, but shelf-stable coconut water seems to be suffering a bit while kombuchas have benefited."​

Within kombucha – sales of which are still strongest in the west coast (the top five cities for kombucha sales in 2017 were San Diego, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Spokane) - the top 10 brands now account for 96% of retail sales in the conventional channel and almost 90% of sales in the natural channel, with ginger (#1) and berries (#2) the top two flavor profiles.

*Total retail sales are likely much higher after you include data from retailers such as Costco and Whole Foods that don’t share their sales with the market researcher, she added. 

Evolution Fresh Organic Kombucha
The new kombucha line comes in six flavors: Ginger Lemon Honeycrisp, Mango Pineapple, Ginger Greens, Spicy Greens, Pink Grapefruit, and Turmeric Pineapple Coconut.

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