People Moves: Former PepsiCola President Joins Cannabiniers Board

Former PepsiCo-East President Joins Cannabiniers Board

Former PepsiCo-East President Michael Lorelli has joined the board of directors at Cannabiniers, a maker of cannabis-infused CPG products including beverages, edibles, creams, and vape pens containing cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The company currently produces cannabis-infused brands Two Roots Brewing Co. non-alcoholic beer and Just Society Cold Brew coffee and tea.

Speaking with BevNET on Monday, Lorelli said he sees significant tailwinds pushing the cannabis industry — which is projected to achieve triple digit growth rates. To meet this demand, he added, Cannabiniers’ product development is vertically integrated to cover the most significant CPG categories that will see the highest growth over the next decade.

“Be it non-alcoholic beer and wine, coffee, tea, edibles — you name it, it’s grown to be a pretty complex organization with the various pieces they’ve assembled,” Lorelli told BevNET. “What I hope to bring to the party here is the ability to make music out of all those pieces that are on the table.”

Currently serving as an outside director for artificial intelligence company KPISOFT, Lorelli previously held leadership roles at frozen dessert brand Rita’s Italian Ice. From these experiences, Lorelli said, he believes his core strengths lie in helping companies develop strategic skills and planning.

At Cannabiniers, he sees Two Roots as a particularly strong product for Cannabiniers due to the trend of cannabis sales drawing market share away from alcohol brands and products. The brand currently offers five THC-infused SKUs: Lager, Blonde, Wheat, Stout, and New West IPA.

Lorelli added that he was drawn to work with Cannabiniers because of the brand’s vision for safe and accessible cannabis products and the quality and experience of its leadership team.

The cannabis space has seen increased attention from federal and state officials and Lorelli said the team is “conservative” in its approach to the tricky regulatory environment of the cannabis space. Although he said it is impossible to predict when cannabis will reach full legal status in the U.S., Lorelli is bullish on the space being able to grow in spite of federal regulations and said it was important for him to jump in early.

“As long as the company is disciplined and believes in 100 percent compliance I am very pleased to put my name on that door, so I feel very very good about this,” he said. “I actually feel sorry for the people who are waiting on the sidelines for all those hurdles to be cleared because they’re going to start the Indy 500 off in the last position of the 33 cars. That’s not smart.”

Brian Demos Named President and CEO of Carolina Beverage Group

Carolina Beverage Group, a co-packing provider owned by Brynwood Partners VIII L.P., has named Brian Demos as president and CEO, taking over the role from retiring CEO Andy Kerner.

According to a press release earlier this month, Demos comes to the company from his prior role as SVP and general manager of TreeHouse Foods Company. He has also previously worked in the food secor at Little Lady Foods Company, ConAgra Brands, and Armour Swift-Eckrich.

“We are delighted to have hired Brian as President and CEO of Carolina Beverage Group,” said Henk Hartong, chairman and CEO of Brynwood Partners, in the release. “The rapid innovation occurring in the beverage category requires a dynamic leader and Brian brings the perfect combination of scientific knowledge, commercial application, and general management experience to Carolina Beverage Group.”

Actress Ruby Rose Joins REBBL as Advisor and Investor

Actress and activist Ruby Rose is joining organix elixir brand REBBL as an investor and advisor, the company announced earlier this month. The Orange is the New Black star will assist in growing brand awareness while also serving the brand’s social activism branch, working to curb human trafficking around the world.

“To me, it’s not only imperative that people grasp the efficacious and functional power of adaptogens and super herbs, but that they learn about REBBL’s impact story—discovering and understanding why, when, how, and where REBBL sources its certified organic ingredients from,” Rose said in a press release. “REBBL is far more than a company or a brand, it’s a human rights movement, and I am humbled to play a role in this journey.”

Rose said she became interested in the brand after discovering it in a Whole Foods Market store. The company did not disclose the size of Rose’s financial investment, but said she will be an “active participant in strategic brand planning and creative development.”

Rose is also working to develop a documentary for the brand.

Harmless Harvest Names New VP of Innovation

Sonoma Brands COO Heather Cutter has joined coconut water maker Harmless Harvest as VP of Innovation, according to her LinkedIn profile. Cutter, who also serves as VP of Innovation at holistic nutrition company Habit Inc., assumed the position this month.

Cutter has previously held positions at Luvo Inc., Plum, Method Products, and The Gymboree Corporation.