SANTA MONICA, Calif. — More than 40 Kombucha Tea companies representing over 90% of the commercial Kombucha bottles, cans and kegs available at retail gathered from around the world on Saturday January 18 at KombuchaKon 2014 for the first ever meeting of Kombucha Brewers International, a newly formed trade association for the quickly growing industry. Founded by Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory of Kombucha Kamp, KBI will work with members to create industry wide standards, engage in class marketing campaigns to educate consumers, retailers and restauranteurs, conduct research and act as communication point for and protector of the Kombucha industry (view the complete list of founding member companies here: http://kombuchabrewers.org/aboutus/membership/ ).
“Alex & I enjoy a unique position in that we’ve already built relationships with so many of the Kombucha companies, we’ve toured their brewing operations, helped craft their processes and had dinner with their families,” said Hannah Crum, President of KBI. “But these companies weren’t talking to each other and that is terrible for a growing industry. We anticipated that If we could just get them in the room together, it could be transformative, and hopefully that’s what’s happened. KBI gives us all the opportunity to speak with one voice to consumers, retailers, regulators and anyone else who wants to do business with our flourishing industry.”
Keynote Speaker Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Co. in San Diego delivered an inspiring and gutsy “do it your own way” message to this young, rapidly expanding beverage sector. He encouraged the Kombucha brewers to view each other as “compatriots rather than competitors” to fuel innovation as an industry. Like craft beer, Kombucha is a category with great room for variety in style, flavor and ingredients, where regional brands can carve out success next to national brands. Known as a maverick brewer with a keen eye for sustainability, Koch had plenty of crossover appeal to the Kombucha community. “The passion and energy in the room was palpable; I had goosebumps on top of goosebumps,” said Susan Fink of Karma Kombucha. “What Hannah and Alex have done to bring our industry together is already monumental and Greg’s speech just reinforced that need to unite and work together,” said Zane Adams of Buchi. “We are eager to take that momentum and hit the ground running.”
As the functional beverage trend continues unabated, Kombucha, “The Fermented Tea with a Funny Name,” 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. In short, consumers have started Thinking Before Drinking and then they Drink Kombucha. “Our industry is poised to tip over from natural niche into mainstream staple with growth rates in traditional grocery exceeding 50%,” said Trevor Ross of Live Soda Kombucha. “Now that we are banding together, we anticipate that trend to pick up steam.”
“A major function of the Association is helping connect these newer companies with resources and information that will help them be more successful, avoid mistakes and represent our industry well as we continue
to grow. We hope and anticipate we will be adding many new members both this year and in the future,” says Alex LaGory, cofounder of KBI.
For more information about Kombucha Brewers International, please visit www.kombuchabrewers.org.