USA – US brewer Molson Coors has expanded its portfolio of soft drink brands with the acquisition of California-based Clearly Kombucha from Top Shelf Beverages for an undisclosed sum.

Kombucha is one of the fastest-growing segments of the packaged soft drinks market, and Molson Coors stated that projections estimate that the category will grow more than 23% from 2018 to 2024.

Clearly Kombucha produces six non-alcoholic flavours of the fermented tea drink, which is made by fermenting black or green tea with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast called SCOBY.

All of the cold-filtered kombucha drinks in the brand’s product range are certified organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegan.

“We believe the kombucha category is in its early stages.

Molson Coors, MillerCoors, and Tenth and Blake are ideally suited to help Clearly Kombucha grow in the years ahead by driving greater awareness, strengthening its brand reputation and boosting retail availability,” said Pete Marino, president of Tenth and Blake.

“We have officially partnered with Molson Coors Brewing Company, which will allow us to grow the CK brand in exciting ways,” Clearly Kombucha added in a statement.

“Rest assured we will remain heavily involved in the business, crafting authentic fermented beverages while leveraging new and exciting expertise in developing great flavors, innovation, and amplifying our portfolio of products to provide more options to more people in more places.”

As beer companies struggle for growth, Molson Coors has been looking for potential investments in areas beyond its signature brews.

This is the latest investment in non-alcoholic beverages after the company took a minority stake last year in Bhakti, a Colorado company that makes ready-to-drink chai tea.

According to FoodBev, Molson Coors has experienced sagging sales in beer, following an initial sales jump from its 2017 purchase of the rest of MillerCoors from SABMiller.

Sales of its flagship brew Coors Light fell 4.1% in 2017.

Overall, the MillerCoors division has watched its market share slip from 30.1% in 2009 to 25% a year ago.

This market softness has afflicted most of the U.S. beer industry, leading brewing companies to diversify into other categories, including non-alcoholic drinks that won’t compete with their main products.

Clearly Kombucha will become part of Molson Coors’s MillerCoors business, and will be incorporated into the Tenth & Blake craft and speciality import division.