Brew Dr. Kombucha parent company sells minority stake to Castanea Partners

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

The minority investment from Castanea Partners will go towards expanding distribution of Brew Dr. Kombucha. Photo: Brew Dr. Kombucha
The minority investment from Castanea Partners will go towards expanding distribution of Brew Dr. Kombucha. Photo: Brew Dr. Kombucha

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Private equity firm Castanea Partners has made a minority investment in Portland, Oregon-based Brew Dr. Kombucha’s parent company Townshend Group (TTG), with an eye on expanding the organic kombucha brand’s US reach and consumer awareness.

Founded in 2006 by Matt Thomas, TTG consists of three business divisions: Brew Dr. Kombucha, tea retailer Townshend’s Tea Company, and Thomas & Sons Distillery, a distiller that uses the alcohol byproduct from the kombucha fermentation process to make craft spirits.

Refrigerated RTD tea products like kombucha thrived in 2017, growing to $1.7bn: led by GT’s Kombucha garnering $100m, followed by PepsiCo’s KeVita with $42m in annual sales, according to IRI scan data from US multi-outlets for the 52 weeks ending Nov. 25, 2017.

Brew Dr. Kombucha produces a line of 100% raw, organic kombucha in a variety of flavors distributed in stores in the US and Canada, including New Seasons, Whole Foods, Costco, Kroger, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, and Target.

Brew Dr. Kombucha, which currently is the No. 3 brand in kombucha category (behind GT’s and KeVita), grew by triple digits last year with revenues ‘close to $30m’ and a 2018 predicted sales goal of close to $60m.

 “At a time when Brew Dr. is gaining significant momentum, we’re excited to be able to work alongside the Castanea team and leverage their distinct experience in building beverage brands,”​ Thomas said.

“Their outstanding track record in the beverage category will provide valuable insights on brand building and distribution expansion. I’m excited to have their help as we make Brew Dr. Kombucha available to more people across the country.”

Castanea is a consumer-focused middle market private equity firm that manages a $1bn portfolio of small and mid-sized consumer brands, with investment in Essentia Water, The Bruery, and formerly in Fuze Beverages.

“In Brew Dr. and TTG we saw an opportunity to invest in a high-quality, authentic kombucha brand that addresses increasing consumer interest in personal health and well-being,”​ Tom First, operating partner at Castanea, said.

The value of the transaction has not been disclosed.

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