Anthony and Sarah Crabb started their kombucha company, Organic & Raw Trading Co, in 2009 after discovering a gap in the Australian market for the low-sugar and live-culture drink.
In just over eight years, they have gone from experimenting with kombucha-making in their backyard shed and selling their MOJO home brews at local farmers’ markets, to distributing manufactured products to about 4000 stockists across Australia, including supermarket giants Woolworths, IGA, Foodland and Aldi.
They currently employ 61 people at their southern Adelaide manufacturing base and sell about 15 different types of kombucha, as well as a growing line of probiotic products designed to improve gut health.
Today’s announcement makes Organic & Raw Trading Co the first kombucha company to be bought out by Coca-Cola Australia, which owns more than 240 drinks products together with its bottling partner Coca-Cola Amatil.
The deal gives Coca-Cola the rights to the company’s most popular kombucha brand, MOJO crafted kombucha, which is a low-sugar, live-culture organic drink made from fermented sweet tea. Bacteria and yeast culture is added to the tea to create a slightly tart taste with a fizzy texture.
Anthony Crabb, who under the deal will remain in his current role as co-founder, says Coca-Cola’s acquisition of the company will result in a jobs boost for southern Adelaide.
“Kombucha is the fastest-growing drinks industry in the world at the moment, so by having Coca-Cola come on board we are going to see our company only grow as we gear up and get more product out across Australia,” he says.
“Coca-Cola is a company which is very dynamic and they have seen the growth in the market, so for us the synergy in the partnership made it a perfect opportunity to expand the business.”
Crabb says the early days of the business involved a trial and error process to get the right balance and texture of the drink.
He says he was inspired to become a kombucha maker after speaking to a friend who had tried the drink while travelling overseas.
“It was certainly very humble beginnings – spending hours out in the back shed trying to perfect the drink,” he says.
“At that stage there was no one else in Australia making kombucha and there wasn’t any guides on how to make it.
“You certainly couldn’t go to the library and pick up a book on how to make it; it was just done by figuring it all out yourself.
“It’s fantastic now to see that work pay off.”
Kombucha is marketed as a health product designed to improve gut health and lower cholesterol.
Coca-Cola Australia president Vamsi Mohan says the acquisition of the MOJO brand reflects Coca Cola’s interest in becoming a “total beverage company”.
“This is another important step in our company’s ongoing work to offer beverages for all occasions,” he says.
“The addition of MOJO kombucha fits perfectly with the growing popularity of organic, probiotic drinks.”
“This is a strong opportunity for us.”
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