Matthew Mitchell Leaving Coke VEB To Lead New Division in Japan

Matthew Mitchell, who spent more than a decade bridging the gap between the Coca-Cola Company and the next generation of beverage brands, is moving East.

Mitchell, the VP of Investments & Ventures at Coke’s Venturing & Emerging Brands (VEB) unit, is leaving his current role to head a newly formed division focusing on emerging brands based in Japan, according to a memo from VEB president Scott Uzzell.

Mitchell will be leading the “Emerging Growth Platforms” team in Coca-Cola Japan as Senior Vice President. The group will look to explore new growth opportunities in beverages specifically aimed at serving the Japanese consumer market. Mitchell will report to business unit president Jorge Garduno.

According to Uzzell, Mitchell will help Coca-Cola Japan “drive strategy and execution of a set of growth initiatives in new channels with brands that leverage external capabilities via equity participation, joint ventures, licensing, strategic alliances, mergers and the development of an investment pipeline.”

Mitchell has spent over 20 years with The Coca-Cola Company, and has been with VEB since its founding in 2007. The unit’s mission is to identify, build and incubate young beverage startups that have the potential to become billion-dollar brands. During Mitchell’s tenure as VP of Investments & Ventures, VEB acquired Honest Tea and Zico, and formed limited investment partnerships with brands like Suja, Fairlife and Health-Ade. The group also took minority stakes in beverage investment and advisory firm First Beverage Group and beverage incubator L.A. Libations.

Most recently, last October, Coke announced the acquisition of sparkling mineral water brand Topo Chico through VEB for a reported fee of $220 million.

Mitchell is the second recent personnel departure from VEB in North America. Heather Faire, formerly VP of Still Beverages, Strategy & E-Commerce, retired last month.

In relocating to Tokyo, Mitchell is returning to a former home. Prior to joining Coke, he was an investment banker working in the foreign exchange options market in the city.

“Matthew’s return to Japan further validates the great work our North America VEB team has done to build a successful model for growing and incubating brands, which is being recognized by our colleagues around the world,” Uzzell wrote.