N.Y. State Reaches Settlement with Kombucha Producers
New York-based kombucha producers and retailers have reached an agreement with state regulatory agencies that will allow the fermented tea drinks to be made and sold like similarly positioned beverages, as opposed to alcoholic products, according to Buffalo Business First. Kombucha commonly contains less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume however, last year the New York State Liquor Authority issued a directive that would have forced kombucha brewers to cease operations, reclassify themselves as producers of alcoholic beverages and apply for state liquor licenses. Buffalo-based Bootleg Bucha and trade group Kombucha Brewers International lobbied against the changes, claiming that kombucha is a healthy tea-based drink and should not be classified as an alcoholic beverage. Moreover, they said that the designation would result in costly fees and expenses for small kombucha producers. The two sides agreed to a settlement that will drop the requirement of a liquor license and ensure that kombucha makers follow standard food safety requirements mandated by the Department of Agriculture and Markets.
Philly’s New Sweetened Drinks Tax Takes Effect
Philadelphia new tax on sweetened drinks is causing some sticker shock among the city’s shoppers, according to 6abc.com. The tax, which places a 1.5 cent per ounce tax on soda and other sugary beverages, paid at the distributor level. Distributors are not required to pass on the added expense to retailers, however, many are and some consumers are feeling the brunt of the new tax. Customers posted photos of receipts and shelf tags on social media that show the effect of the tax on some everyday products. One photo showed a 12-pack of diet green tea that typically costs $4.99, but with the added tax, it’s now $8.03.
Coke Closes Founders Incubator
The Coca-Cola Co. has ended a tech-focused startup accelerator program called the Founders platform, according to the Monterey Herald Business. Coke spokesman Petro Kacur said that the company, which launched Founders in 2013, decided to “focus [its] marketing innovation resources primarily around core innovation projects within our beverage portfolio.” However, Coke said that it would continue its relationships born from the program, including Wonolo, a San Francisco-based on-demand staffing startup, through its corporate mergers and acquisitions team. The Founders program had an unusual investment strategy that focused on giving entrepreneurs the freedom to work in any industry of their choosing prior to them having a startup or idea.
Forbes’ “30 Under 30” List Includes Founders of Mati, Steamm
Forbes has released its annual “30 Under 30” list, which the magazine promotes “600 of the brightest young entrepreneurs, innovators and game changers” among 20 industries. A sub-list focused on the food and beverage industry includes MATI Energy founder Tatiana Birgisson and Steamm Espresso founder Joey Grassia. Birgisson launched Mati while a student at Duke University and recently opened a new 30,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility that will enable her company to produce up to 1 million cans a month. Meanwhile, Grassia, also the founder of KUTOA Health Bars, launched Steamm as a way to fill his caffeine fix via a healthy and potent beverage. He created a higher-intensity espresso by using steam (hence the name) and the bottled product is served in offices around Silicon Valley.