Millennium Products owner GT Dave, the maker of the Whole Foods’ best sellers GT’s Kombucha and Synergy kombucha blend lines, denied any involvement or discussions with Nestle Friday.
Dave issued the denial after a report surfaced in another publication about a rumor that his company was on the block.
“It’s a thousand percent false,” Dave told BevNET. “Six months ago, the rumor was we’re selling to Coke, and six months before that, we were selling to Pepsi.”
According to Dave, some of the rumors in the kombucha category are the result of the increasingly competitive nature within the category – a statement borne out by discussions with smaller brands during Expo West.
“When you have a homegrown company and product like ours, from a consumer standpoint the heart and soul of the brand is the story behind it,” something that can be hurt by associating the company with a large business like Nestle or Coke, Dave said, but added he was not even looking to add investors at this point.
Several new companies have entered the category in the past year, including a high-profile new line launched by natural foods giant Hain/Celestial. The extra competition has made a category long associated with organic growth and bacteria into a bit more of a struggle for survival.
“It’s definitely a sharp elbow category,” said David H. Cordtz, the CEO of year-old Vibranz, a Sonoma County-based Kombucha line. In fact, Cordtz said he’d designed Vibranz’s tag line, ‘the taste you’ve been waiting for’ as a partial rejection of the style of Dave’s Millennium Product lines, Synergy and GT’s Kombucha.
“A lot of people are drinking the main brand in spite of the taste,” Cordtz said.
But it’s that groundswell of people doing so that is leading to the rumors, Dave emphasized.
“I think [investment] is what people expect,” he said. “Companies even less developed than we are, you see them selling, so people see us and think it’s a logical next step.”