Coca-Cola acquires sports drink brand Bodyarmor in US$5.6 billion deal, unveils first 100% plant-based plastic bottle

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. 

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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. 

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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.   

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