February 4, 2011
“Kombucha is one of the most interesting and unique categories in the beverage (world).” -- John Craven
Hey there and welcome to a brand new Kombucha Kamp Podcast!
Recently, I had the unique opportunity to connect with BevNet, the industry leader covering product and marketing news in the beverage world, and specifically John Craven, founder and owner. John is a not-so-secret Kombucha fan who also happens to be a behind the scenes beverage big-wig/know-it-all and one of the nicest guys I’ve met in a long time.
The Great Kombucha Recall of 2010 was “almost like a sports league going on strike...it kind of made it fair game for anyone to try and get that shelf space.”
Even better, he’s got a ton of great insight into the Kombucha category, which he calls one of the “most interesting and unique categories” in the beverage world. Considering The Great Kombucha Recall of 2010 and all the new brands and variations emerging onto the scene, he’ll get no argument from me.
“It seemed like there were folks out there that were really campaigning to try to make (The Recall) happen.”
We discuss The Recall of course, but also GT’s winning Product of the Year from BevNet Live Winter 2010, Honest Tea’s decision to drop their Kombucha line and what to expect moving forward, especially the potential for over-21 Kombucha lines. We also dip into the question of further regulatory issues that could emerge.
“In the case of Kombucha, you really don’t have any two products that look exactly the same...Kombucha seems to be ruled by a different type of company that just wants to do their own thing.”
I’ve put together this podcast from a couple of different calls we had up to the beginning of 2011, so enjoy! (Instead of a transcript, I’ve created a basic log of questions and topics so you can jump around if you like, but it’s only about 20 minutes long so feel free to just listen to the whole convo!
00:00 - What is BevNet and what spurred you to found it in 1996?
01:15 - When did Kombucha come onto the beverage industry radar?
03:15 - Talk about The Recall and Kombucha from an industry standpoint.
04:40 - How is Kombucha regulated? Does the FDA test these products regularly?
05:46 - GT’s won Product of the Year at BevNet 2010. How did you come to that decision?
06:50 - What can we expect in the Kombucha category moving forward? Are there murky waters ahead for Kombucha on store shelves?
08:00 - What is the viability for an “Over-21” Kombucha? Who would be interested and what kind of market would work?
09:30 - What are your thoughts about Honest Tea’s decision to drop their Kombucha line? Will this affect the Kombucha category?
11:25 - GT’s has released his AP5 Kombucha, for purchase by over-21 consumers. John weighs on on GT’s selling both the Original (AP5) and Enlightened (BP5) versions and potential difficulties about how that may play out.
12:50 - John talks about the different ethos and independent spirit of the Kombucha industry compared to the rest of the beverage industry.
14:10 - How the variety of Kombucha brands provides options to potential drinkers and helps Kombucha expand its reach.
15:10 - Great info about the Beverage Industry here: The concept of “bio-availability,” powdered supplements in the caps of water bottles (coming in 2011) and the behemoth known as coconut water.
16:45 - We discuss Yerba Mate, Acai and other exotic fruit juice offerings and the impact they are having on the beverage industry, especially the work by Guyaki and Sambazon.
18:05 - John discusses Expo West, coming up in March in Anaheim, CA.