Amidst rumors of irreconcilable differences between its co-founders and its Dutch investors, Veri Soda Group shut down operations this past weekend, according to Beverage Business Insights.
Speaking with BevNET, former COO Michael J. O’Donnell confirmed the company’s closure and said he left his position two months ago. After joining in January of 2016, three months after Veri Soda Group had completed a second funding round, O’Donnell worked to revamp the organic soda brand’s sales and marketing. He said sales did well during his time, but that turmoil on the investment side had been ongoing.
“You’ve got to have proper funding,” O’Donnell told BevNET.
According to BBI, Virginia-based ad agency Martin Agency had recently supplied additional financing and a new marketing plan, but internal disagreements over the brand’s future strategy ultimately cratered.
On Saturday, the board of directors sent an e-mail to inform employees of the closure, writing “Notwithstanding the board’s endless efforts, we very much regret to inform you that The Veri Soda Group has proven to be no longer financeable. As of today the group and its subsidiary The Veri Soda Company will cease to do business.”
Although he “loved the brand,” O’Donnell said he was unsure of a future for soda, regardless of the prevalence of organic and reduced sugar brands. As more cities weigh “soda taxes” on sugary beverages, similar to the one enacted in Philadelphia this year, soda will become an increasingly unviable category, he said.
Veri Soda was co-founded in 2012 by Leonard Vereecken and Zeger van Hovell. The duo had previously launched and still run organic soft drink company Oggu in their native Netherlands. New York-based Veri Soda was made with a blend of stevia and cane sugar. The soda contained 60 calories per 12 oz. can and offered four flavors — Cola, Ginger Ale, Lemon Lime, and Orange. The brand was sold in select grocery chains including Kroger and Harris Teeter.
Vereecken and van Hovell have not responded to requests for comment.