The Coca-Cola Co. and Zico Beverages announced today that the soft drink company has acquired a minority stake in the Hermosa Beach, Calif.-based maker of Zico Coconut Water. The investment represents less than 20 percent of Zico, but is part of an overall trend in coconut water as it follows PepsiCo's acquisition of Amacoco, the largest coconut water-maker in Brazil, in mid-August.
Coca-Cola's investment is part of an overall $15 million infusion that also came from Jesse Itzler, principal of Suite 850 and co-founder of Marquis Jet, several private investors, both in the industry and outside of the beverage business, and independent beverage distributors.
“This support from such an exciting and influential consortium of investors certainly validates the broad potential we’ve known Zico had from the outset,” said Mark Rampolla, Zico founder and chief executive officer, in a statement. “Building on our established momentum and powered by this new investment, we plan to introduce the Zico brand and its natural health benefits to a much larger mainstream audience, which has always been our mission.”
Coconut water has a natural electrolyte content that has made it popular among sports drink consumers, particularly natural products enthusiasts.
The Coca-Cola investment was led by Coca-Cola North America’s Venturing and Emerging Brands (VEB) Business Unit. “VEB continues to seek out burgeoning brands that have the potential to change the way consumers look at beverages," said Deryck van Rensburg, president and general manager, Venturing and Emerging Brands, Coca-Cola North America. "Combining the natural goodness of Zico, the combined marketing acumen of Zico's team and Suite 850, and the brand building expertise of VEB certainly makes for an innovative partnership.”