USA – Coca-Cola, a US-based multinational beverage company, has bought full ownership of sports drink maker Bodyarmor for $5.6 billion, making it the company’s largest brand acquisition to date. 

The deal, which values BodyArmor at about US$6.59 billion, marks a shift in strategy for Coca-Cola that spent the last year offloading or discontinuing brands, including its own energy-drink brand, to focus on its sodas 

The beverage giant bought a 15% stake in Bodyarmor in 2018, becoming its second-largest shareholder, followed by basketball legend Kobe Bryant. 

Bryant’s estate is expected to receive more than US$400 million from the sale, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

Coke first said in February that it intended to buy a controlling interest in Bodyarmor later this year in a pre-acquisition filing with the Federal Trade Commission. 

Owning Bodyarmor helps Coke gain market share in the sports drink category which is currently led by PepsiCo’s Gatorade which controls about 70% of the market share.  

By positioning itself as a healthier sports drink, Bodyarmor has surpassed Coke’s Powerade to become the second-largest player in the category.

According to Coke, the sports drink brand’s retail sales are more than $1.4 billion, up about 50% this year. 

As part of the deal, Bodyarmor co-founder Mike Repole – who also founded Vitaminwater, Smartwater and Energy Brands, all of which are now owned by Coke- will collaborate on the company’s still beverages portfolio.  

Repole and BodyArmor President Brent Hastie will also stick around to help Bodyarmor in its quest to overtake Gatorade. 

The Bodyarmor deal is Coke’s largest brand acquisition, topping its purchase of Costa Coffee in 2018 for US$5.1 billion. 

Plant-based plastic bottle 

In its quest to find sustainable alternatives to plastic bottles, Coca-Cola has unveiled its first-ever beverage bottle made from 100% plant-based plastic, excluding the cap and label. 

The prototype bottle comes more than a decade after the company’s PlantBottle™ debuted as the world’s first recyclable PET plastic bottle made with up to 30% plant-based material. 

“We have been working with technology partners for many years to develop the right technologies to create a bottle with 100% plant-based content—aiming for the lowest possible carbon footprint,” said Nancy Quan, Chief Technical and Innovation Officer, The Coca‑Cola Company.   

“It’s exciting that we have reached a point where these technologies exist and can be scaled by participants in the value chain.” 

Coca-Cola’s new prototype plant-based bottle is made from plant-based paraxylene (bPX) – using a new process by Virent – which has been converted to plant-based terephthalic acid (bPTA). 

The bPX for this bottle was produced using sugar from corn, though the process lends itself to flexibility in the feedstock. 

Coca-Cola says this innovation supports the World Without Waste vision, specifically the recently announced target to use 3 million tons less of virgin plastic from oil-based sources by 2025.   

Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Business Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food and agro industry. SUBSCRIBE HERE