Coke pops Innocent offer

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Coca-cola Carbon dioxide functional beverage beverage

Atlanta, Georgia-based Coca-Cola has tabled an offer for a minority stake in stalling UK smoothie maker, Innocent, according to press reports.

The UK Sunday Telegraph​ said Innocent was being pursued by several potential suitors despite the fact its sales fell 20 per cent in 2008, from €146m in 2007 to €117m last year.

But Innocent co-founder, Richard Reed, told UK trade magazine The Grocer ​it was unlikely anything would be finalised before the end of April.

The 11-year-old company said it was seeking investment to allow it to develop international markets and non-smoothie lines such as the range of chopped vegetables and sauce it launched last year and which is its first non-beverage foray.

The pairing may not seem an obvious one given Innocent’s green business ethics and natural range of smoothie products, but follows other beverage acquisitions from Coke, as well as PepsiCo, to improve the nutritional profiles of their offerings.

In 2007, Coke paid about €3.14bn for healthy water brand, Glaceau Vitaminwater and Pepsi has made acquisitions such as the US healthy soda company, Ardea, in 2006.

A recent Carbon Trust report found the carbon footprint was smaller for the manufacturing of a can of Coke than for a 250ml Innocent smoothie. When packaging, transportation and refrigeration were taken into account, each can of Coke produced 170g of carbon dioxide while an Innocent 250ml mango and passionfruit smoothie emitted 209g of Co2.

Reed said the carbon numbers reflected the fact a can of Coke most mostly water.

Last year PepsiCo entered the UK smoothie market by debuting Tropicana Smoothies and backing it with a €5m marketing spend.

Other groups linked with buying into Innocent including Bridgepoint and Darwin Private Equity.

Innocent was rapped on the knuckles in 2007 by the UK Advertising Standards Authority for making an unauthorised health claim about one of its smoothies having a high antioxidant content and detoxifying effect. It amended the claim.

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