Eat the Change expands Just Ice Tea line, aims to recapture Honest Tea market

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Eat the Change Honest Tea Expo west

Eat the Change co-founder Seth Goldman is continuing to fill the gap left behind by The Coca-Cola Co.'s decision to discontinue Honest Tea by creating a “rhyming copy” of the beloved ready-to-drink brand under his new company, which recently released three new flavors at the Natural Products Expo West. 

At Expo West last week, Eat the Change expanded its line of Just Ice Tea beverages​ with three new flavors Mango White Tea, Original Black Tea, and Lemon Ginger Herbal Tea. These are in addition to the Original Green Tea, Honey Green Tea, Moroccan Mint Green Tea, Peach Oolong Tea, Half Tea & Half Lemonade, and Berry Hibiscus Herbal Tea flavors, which launched with the tea beverage brand last September.

The beverages are USDA organic and Fair Trade Certified and sweetened with agave and/or honey, Goldman told FoodNavigator-USA in a video interview. Just Ice Tea is available nationwide at Whole Foods, Sprouts, regional grocers, and natural co-op retailers.

Recapturing the Honest Tea customer

Though he has a rule to “never go out and try to copycat somebody,” Goldman — having been a co-founder of Honest Tea — made “an exception because Honest Tea going away left a shelf presence and a customer market that our team knew really well.” Eat the Change “[moved] as quickly as possible to recapture that market and satisfy those consumers who were left without their Honest Tea​" with the launch of Just Ice Tea​, he added.

What Honest Tea … left a big hole,” Goldman said. “[Just Ice Tea] wasn't a carbon copy, but it was a rhyming copy. It’s organic, Fairtrade Certified, [and] less sweet. We did make some adjustments … we don't use any organic cane sugar because, as part of Eat the Change, we want to promote biodiversity.​”

Not only has the brand looked to recapture the Honest Tea customer, but Eat the Change worked to ensure that Just Ice Tea was able to shore up its supply chain with the tea farmers, Goldman explained. The discontinuation of Honest Tea “was a real blow​” to these tea gardens, and Eat the Change was able to work with those same farmers to create Just Ice Tea, he added.

Tea is one of the most sustainable crops ever because it's just bushes that you pick leaves from, and they regenerate within a few weeks. It's delicious and has … a great taste profile, and all we had to do is make sure we could create an impactful brand that still fit our environmental guardrails, and so we created Just Ice Tea.​”

Promoting planet-friendly foods

As the brand looks out to the rest of the year, Eat the Change is gearing up for iced tea season and finding ways to grow its snack line, which includes its Carrot Chews and Mushroom Jerky, Goldman said. And when possible, use one product to promote the other, he added. 

Iced tea season doesn't really start until after April, … [and] what we want to do is use the tea as a way to introduce people to our snacks. So, hopefully, over the course of this year, you'll see displays with tea and snacks on the same shelf as a way to help people embrace planet-friendly foods.​”

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