Kombucha Entrepreneurs Form Trade Group

The Kombucha category continues to be one of swiftest risers in the beverage industry, so Kombucha entrepreneurs are ready for validation.

Kombucha Brewers International, a Kombucha trade group, announced its launch on Tuesday afternoon. According to a press release, the group will set industry-wide standards, create marketing campaigns, educate consumers, retailers and restaurants, conduct research and serve as a point of communication regarding the Kombucha industry.

The group was founded by Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory of KombuchaKamp.com, a website that explains Kombucha’s properties and benefits and provides recipes (note: Crum and LaGory have previously written for BevNET).

“Kombucha Kamp’s mission, to heal the world one gut at a time, cannot and should not be accomplished alone,” Crum said in the release. “We have partnered with our friends in the commercial industry on numerous occasions regarding education and regulatory issues, and founding a trade group is the logical next step to furthering that mission.”

The release notes that according to data from SPINS, a leading market research provider on natural and specialty products, Kombucha sales increased 37 percent from 2012 to 2013.

Current members of the group include Anne’s Kombucha, Better Booch, Búcha, Buchi, Buddha’s Brew, Communitea, Conscious, Grateful Harvest, Health-Ade, High Country, Holy, House, Karma, KBBK/Kombucha Brooklyn, Kickin, Kombucha Mama, Kombucha Max, Nessalla, Nugget’s Raw, Red Star, Remedy, Tonica, Unity Vibration Living Kombucha Tea, Urban Farm Fermentory and YogiBeer.

Missing from that roster are two of the largest Kombucha producers — GTs and Reed’s.

The full press release is below:

LOS ANGELES — Kombucha Tea entrepreneurs from around the world today announced they are joining as founding members of Kombucha Brewers International (http://www.KombuchaBrewers.org), a new trade group designed to create industry wide standards, engage in class marketing campaigns to educate consumers, retailers and restaurants, conduct research and act as communication point for and protector of the Kombucha industry.

Founders Hannah Crum & Alex LaGory of KombuchaKamp.com have secured the commitment of twenty five regional, national & international Kombucha brands, coming together to tackle the issues that face the industry as it continues to rapidly expand. “The timing is spot on as the category transitions from the Wild West to Big Business,” commented Bern Galvin, founder of Búcha. Many more brands are expected to join before the first annual Kombucha Konvention, to be held January 17th-18th in Santa Monica, CA.

“Kombucha Kamp’s mission, to heal the world one gut at a time, cannot and should not be accomplished alone. We have partnered with our friends in the commercial industry on numerous occasions regarding education and regulatory issues, and founding a trade group is the logical next step to furthering that mission,” says KKamp founder Hannah Crum.

As the functional beverage trend continues unabated, Kombucha, maintains status as the darling of the Functional Beverages segment. According to data from SPINScan, Kombucha sales grew nearly 40% from 2011 to 2012 and 37% from 2012 to 2013. In the Natural Channel alone, the growth of the segment is 26% with a whopping 53% growth from the year before in the Conventional Channel (note: SPINS numbers do not include Whole Foods). In short, consumers have started thinking before drinking – and then they Drink Kombucha.

Why Kombucha? Research has shown that tea has a wide range of health benefits due to the natural
compounds present in the leaves. Fermenting the tea enhances those benefits by making it more bio-available and imbuing it with living probiotics (healthy bacteria). Regular drinkers of Kombucha enjoy the unique flavor experience and report improved digestion, more energy and an overall feeling of wellbeing.

While Kombucha has been brewed for centuries, if not millennia, in kitchens all across the world, the commercial industry is barely two decades old. Converts purchase Kombucha by the case, and the Kombucha boom has picked up even more steam in recent years despite the voluntary withdrawal in 2010. With double digit growth every year since, the Kombucha category is on pace to crest $500M in sales in 2013, expanding rapidly beyond the Natural Channel into more traditional grocery and convenience stores. This dramatic and rapid growth makes evident the need for the Kombucha Brewer’s International trade association.

“Suppliers and distributors have already indicated their support for the formation of KBI because it sends a signal that Kombucha is here to stay, not just a fad. Hannah and Alex’s many years of Kombucha education and expertise make them the perfect candidates to head up this organization,” notes Ed Rothbauer, President of High Country Kombucha.

The full list of current KBI member companies: Anne’s Kombucha, Better Booch, Búcha, Buchi, Buddha’s Brew, Communitea, Conscious, Grateful Harvest (AUS), Health-Ade, High Country, Holy, House, Karma, KBBK Kombucha Brooklyn, Kickin, Kombucha Mama, Kombucha Max (AUS), Nessalla, Nugget’s Raw, Red Star, Remedy (AUS), Tonica (CAN), Unity Vibration Living Kombucha Tea, Urban Farm Fermentory and YogiBeer (AUS).

For more information about joining Kombucha Brewers International or to participate in KombuchaKon 2014, please visit www.kombuchabrewers.org or call Hannah Crum at 424.245.5867.