Coca-Cola Co. announced late Monday that it would discontinue Honest Tea as part of a repositioning of its ready-to-drink tea portfolio that will also help it meet packaging supply challenges. Brand founder Seth Goldman immediately criticized the move as a “gut punch” for the organic brand whose traction among health enthusiasts and socially conscious consumers led the beverage giant to acquire it in 2008.
Coca-Cola in a statement said it would continue to make and market the associated Honest Kids product lines but was rationalizing its tea portfolio behind brands “with the greatest potential for scale and profitable growth,”—namely, its Gold Peak and Peace Tea brands. It also continues a move by Coca-Cola to prune its portfolio of slower-growing items: The brand in recent years has axed slow-growing so-called “zombie brands” such as Tab, Odwalla and Zico. Rival PepsiCo has also trimmed its portfolio, offloading Tropicana late last year.
Honest Tea will be phased out by the end of the calendar year. Coca-Cola cited slowing sales, limited regional appeal, and the need to consolidate resources to address ongoing packaging supply challenges.