The Coca-Cola Company has acquired the outstanding ownership stake in coconut water brand ZICO Beverages LLC, which will unlock more capability for ZICO including marketing, selling, manufacturing, innovation and distribution opportunities.
Additionally, The Coca-Cola Company will gain a leading position in one of the fastest growing beverage categories in the world.
The move completes the transaction which began in 2009 when Coca-Cola’s Venturing and Emerging Brands (VEB) business unit first invested in ZICO.
In 2012, the company purchased a majority stake in the brand.
Earlier this year, the brand took its place on the signature red Coca-Cola trucks to be distributed throughout the US and Canada.
US coconut water market
“Over the past four years we have watched the coconut water category see an impressive spike in revenue and household penetration and ZICO solidify its position as one of the leading brands in this category,” said Deryck van Rensburg, president and GM, venturing and emerging brands, Coca-Cola North America.
“With our acquisition, we plan to innovate in all aspects of the consumer experience and increase both velocity and distribution to position ZICO for even more growth.”
Coca Cola says the coconut water category has seen impressive sales growth since its inception, nearly doubling its revenue every year since 2004.
In the period since Coca-Cola’s initial investment in ZICO, the brand has expanded its distribution footprint from six markets to national presence, adding retail partners such as Kroger, Target and Walmart.
While coconut water growth remains extremely strong in 2013, year-to-date ZICO’s volume growth continues to outperform the category.
“We always believed coconut water would eventually become a major beverage category and ZICO a household name, even when we were running the company from my garage and selling out of a rented truck,” said Mark Rampolla, ZICO’s founder and CEO.
As part of the transaction, G. Scott Uzzell will become president and take over day-to-day management of ZICO Beverages, LLC.
Rampolla will remain as a non-executive advisor to ZICO supporting the transition and long-term strategic initiatives.
Uzzell has served as ZICO’s chief commercial officer and EVP of sales for the past year.
Prior to this position, Scott held several leadership roles for The Coca-Cola Company, including VP of the McDonald’s business unit and VP/GM, incubation for VEB.