Nestlé Sells Tradewinds and Sweet Leaf Tea

Nestlé Waters North America today announced the sale of ready-to-drink iced tea brands Tradewinds Tea and Sweet Leaf Tea Company to Dunn’s River Brands, a portfolio company of private equity firm Fireman Capital Partners based in Texas.

Financial details of the deal, expected to close by the end of the year, were not disclosed.

Dunn’s River Brands is a Texas-based beverage portfolio management company founded by industry veterans Kevin McClafferty, Lee Brody and Ian Knowles. Speaking to BevNET, McClafferty said the team first approached Fireman Capital Partners with the concept for the brand building platform last year and quickly formed a partnership. This is the first acquisition for the company.

McClafferty — who serves as President and CEO — said more brands will be added to the portfolio within the next 90 to 120 days.

“We absolutely believe in the legacy and the quality that Tradewinds and Sweet Leaf bring to the marketplace, so it was very attractive to have the opportunity to get to know these brands better and they fit with the mission and charter of what we hope to accomplish,” said Brody, who serves as CMO.

Sweet Leaf Tea Company, founded in 1998, acquired Tradewinds Beverage Co. in 2010. In 2011, it was acquired by Nestlé Waters North America following a $15.6 million investment from the company two years prior.

According to McClafferty, the two brands have potential to perform well with consumers seeking organic and better-for-you options.

“It’s got to be something that has that cool factor to it,” he said of the acquisition. “We really feel that Sweet Leaf has got a great opportunity to get real cool, real soon.”

In a press release, Nestlé Waters North America president and CEO Fernando Mercé said the company opted to sell Sweet Leaf and Tradewinds as part of an ongoing strategy to focus on strengthening its core brands. The sales leaves Nesteaas the company’s only ready-to-drink tea line.

“We want to build a world class organization around world class brands,” Brody said. “Nestlé has been extremely generous and collaborative and cooperative with us. They are an amazing organization and our plan is to build an organization for Dunn’s River to be world class at every functional level.”