Keurig Dr Pepper has taken a $50 million minority equity stake in Athletic Brewing, the US-based non-alcoholic craft beer brand that has propelled interest in the growing segment. BD reported the news this morning in an email alert. KDP’s stake is on par with other lead investors in the brand, including TRB Advisors and Alliance Consumer Growth. “We’re thrilled to welcome Keurig Dr Pepper as an investor and strategic partner,” Athletic Co-founder and CEO Bill Shufelt told BD in an email. “Their team brings a tremendous amount of expertise and truly embraces our mission of brewing great-tasting non-alcoholic beers that are fit for all times. This investment will enable Athletic Brewing to further accelerate our growth across North America.” No specific commercial agreements are part of the deal, according to KDP, which told BD that it looks forward to a multi-year partnership where they help Athletic grow. KDP gets a board seat, has no defined path to ownership, and gets right of first refusal to negotiate in a takeout. KDP’s investment follows its recent global rights acquisition in Canada of non-alcoholic, ready-to-drink cocktail brand Atypique. The company has been on the hunt for investments and acquisitions in fast-growing emerging beverage categories. The U.S. non-alcoholic beer segment grew by almost +20% by retail dollars during the past year, and Athletic holds a 55% market share of U.S. non-alcoholic beer, the companies said.
OTHER NEW INVESTMENT. In addition to KDP’s investment, Athletic raised another $25 million from existing and new investors including NFL star J.J. Watt, professional tennis champion Naomi Osaka, and fashion model Karlie Kloss.
BACKGROUND. Athletic Brewing was founded in 2017 by friends Shufelt and John Walker and began commercial operations in 2018. The company has since raised $173.5 million in funding, including the KDP-led investment being announced today. Athletic operates its own breweries, where it produces more than 40 beers, including IPAs, a wheat beer, and a chelada. The beers are sold across the US at retailers including Walmart. Athletic shipped 1.4 million cases of beer last year and surpassed that amount this year in August, according to the company, which also said sales have jumped by a triple-digit percentage so far this year in measured channels. Athletic ranked among the top-20 craft beer brewers nationally, it said.
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