USA – Coca-Cola is taking a minority ownership stake in Bodyarmor, a fast-growing line of premium sports performance and hydration beverages for an undisclosed sum.

The company said that through the strategic relationship, Bodyarmor will remain an independent company and gain access to the expansive Coca-Cola bottling and distribution system.

The initial investment, which will be part of the Coca-Cola North America Venturing & Emerging Brands (VEB) investment portfolio, is structured to create value for both companies and allow Coca-Cola to increase its ownership stake over time.

Bodyarmor will continue to operate independently under the leadership of Co-Founder and Chairman Mike Repole and his management team.

“Mike and his team have a unique capability to understand consumer needs and develop breakthrough products that meet these needs, and also to create commercial strategies to grow these brands in the marketplace.

We’re really excited about working with them and having Bodyarmor part of bottlers’ expanding beverage portfolio,” said Coca-Cola North America president Jim Dinkins.

Bodyarmor produces a range of sports drinks for the US market which are made with coconut water and without artificial colours or flavours, and its portfolio of drinks includes Bodyarmor Sports Drink, Bodyarmor Sports Drink Lyte and Bodyarmor SportWater.

“In a fast-moving and dynamic industry, and during a time of unprecedented change at Coca-Cola, we’re challenging the status quo and bringing innovative, boundary-less thinking to our strategic relationships to ensure we are offering the products consumers want.

Bodyarmor is one of the fastest growing beverage trademarks in America and competes in exciting categories,” added Jim.

“I have no doubt it will prove to be a strong offering to our system alongside our already powerful hydration portfolio as we accelerate our position as a total beverage company.”

“Bodyarmor is revolutionising the beverage industry by providing the hydration that more and more of today’s athletes want and need.

We are confident that this agreement gives us the best opportunity to significantly accelerate our mission to make Bodyarmor the world’s best premium sports performance and hydration brand,” said Bodyarmor co-founder and chairman Mike Repole.

“This is thanks to the strength and scale of Coca-Cola’s newly refranchised and energized bottling system in North America, as well as longer-term opportunities for international growth.”

Financial Times also added that Coca-Cola’s agreement to buy a stake in a sports drink maker backed by US basketball star Kobe Bryant, will help in the hope of loosening the hold that PepsiCo’s Gatorade has over the lucrative market.

Coca-Cola also said BodyArmor’s sales had been doubling each year for four years. It was that growth rate that prompted Wells Fargo analysts recently to describe BodyArmor as the “worst nightmare” for Gatorade and Coca-Cola’s Powerade, which together have dominated the multibillion-dollar market for sports beverages.