Health-Ade, Los Angeles, announced that long-standing partner First Bev has acquired a controlling stake in the company. The deal also is backed by powerhouse investors including Manna Tree, a Vail, Colo.-based investment firm committed to improving human health through nutrition.

Daina Trout, who co-founded Health-Ade in 2012 with Justin Trout and Vanessa Dew, has taken on the new role of chief mission officer and will work in partnership with Jack Belsito, managing partner of First Bev, who will assume the role of CEO. Daina Trout and Belsito will work to cultivate further growth for the fast-growing business, capitalizing on increasing consumer demand for gut-healthy products and expansion opportunities in retail accounts domestically and internationally, the company says.

“I couldn't be more excited for Health-Ade to have someone with Jack's experience and credentials step into the CEO role and to be able to continue to focus my passion and energy in a new way on the opportunities that lie ahead for Health-Ade,” Daina Trout said in a statement. “First Bev has been an amazing partner since the beginning, providing not just capital, but expertise and resources through every crucial growth phase of the company. We have the highest of expectations for what we can accomplish together as we enter into this transformative phase of growth for Health-Ade. We also want to thank CAVU Venture Partners who was one of our early investors for supporting us through this journey as they will be selling shares as part of this control transaction.”

Under the leadership of its three founders, Health-Ade quickly evolved from selling its flagship kombucha in the Los Angeles farmers markets into one of the top-selling kombucha beverage brands with retail sales more than $200 million annually, the company says. Today, Health-Ade can be found in more than 45,000 stores nationwide.

Health-Ade's products include the original Health-Ade Kombucha line, recently launched Pop prebiotic soda, Health-Ade Plus, a kombucha line featuring adaptogenic ingredients, and Health-Ade Cocktail Mixers, a cold-pressed mixer line. Already in 2021, Health-Ade has launched a multimillion-dollar education campaign aimed at disseminating information about gut-health and kombucha in an entertaining, easy to digest format.

“It is an extremely exciting time in the marketplace for Health-Ade,” said Belsito, whose 35-year beverage industry career includes prior roles as CEO of Voss Water, CEO of Snapple and as a senior executive at Cadbury Schweppes. “Our vision is for Health-Ade to become the global leader in kombucha and digestive health beverages, one gut at a time.”

Ross Iverson, co-founder and CIO of Manna Tree, added: “As consumers become more educated about the importance of gut health to overall health, functional beverages with real efficacy will assume a much more prominent position in the global diet. With the continuing expansion of its offerings, Health-Ade is positioned to become the category leader in its space. Manna Tree will tap into our international distribution relationships and other resources as we work alongside management and First Bev to help to elevate Health-Ade to the next level of growth.”

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.