Acquisition: First Secret Squirrel, Now Kombucha Wonder Drink for Pure Steeps

unnamedKombucha Wonder Drink is looking fresh after the 2017 Winter Fancy Food Show; it came prepared to the annual food and beverage convention, with new flavors, new labelling, and a new parent company.

Pure Steeps, a recently established subsidiary of tea conglomerate Harris Freeman, acquired the Oregon-based kombucha company in November. Wonder Drink joins California-based cold brew company Secret Squirrel as the two inaugural brands under the Pure Steeps name. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Wonder Drink founder and CEO Steve Lee told BevNET that he will remain with the company as the CEO of Pure Steeps.

“The opportunity to get involved with Harris Freeman and help create Pure Steeps was a real opportunity for me,” Lee said. “The acquisition was really a simple one. They bought the company and our whole small team joined their team. Now we’re in the process of building Pure Steeps.”

With a new owner comes a new look. According to Sai Chaluvadi, Pure Steeps’ vice president of R&D and operations, Wonder Drink’s redesigned bottle label emphasizes the brand’s American heritage, adding the slogan “Oregon Roots” to the top of each bottle and including an “Est. 1999” tag to communicate to new consumers that Wonder Drink is not at all a new brand.

unnamed-1Pure Steeps is on the move itself: between Secret Squirrel and Wonder Drink, it plans to move from 22 to 40 SKUs by the end of 2017, Chaluvadi said. The current pasteurized Wonder Drink line, sold in bottles and cans, will be relaunched as a prebiotic beverage with improved flavors. The first glimpse premiered at Fancy Food Show. The current “Raw” line has been discontinued and will be replaced with a new probiotic line which will be revealed this spring at Expo West.

Wonder Drink also sampled two new flavors of the pasteurized line at Fancy Food Show, both of which are set to debut later this year — Mint, Juniper Berry & Apple and Concord Grape.

In Secret Squirrel, Pure Steeps is releasing two cold brewed teas, Sencha Green and New Rwanda Black, with plans for future expansion as well.

“The way Harris Freeman looks at things is to create brands that are sustainable that can last 100 years strong,” Chaluvadi said. “It was always about people first. Identifying the right talent, nurturing them, helping them realize their dreams. And Pure Steeps in many ways is the same DNA.”