Industry News | June 25, 2008

Sweet Leaf Tea Announces New Products

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Sweet Leaf Tea, a ready-to-drink beverage company, made several key announcements at the Fancy Food show in New York. The company is launching a limited-edition blueberry lemonade in an authentic Mason jar and introducing an organic mango green tea. Sweet Leaf Tea also announced the NASFT Gold SOFI Award nomination for its Organic Peach Lemonade and the addition of beverage industry veteran, Tom First, to its board of directors. This latest batch of news comes on the heels of an $18 million round of funding from Catterton Partners, the nation’s leading private equity firm in the consumer sector. Catterton Partners was an early investor in companies including Build-a-Bear, PF Chang’s China Bistro, Odwalla, and Kettle Foods.

The two new products are Sweet Leaf’s Lemonade Stand Blueberry Lemonade and Sweet Leaf’s Organic Mango Green Tea.

Sweet Leaf’s Blueberry Lemonade and the company’s popular Peach Lemonade will be sold in a limited edition, environmentally-friendly, 16-ounce, reusable Mason jar. The limited edition Mason jars are available for the summer only, and will retail for a suggested $2.49 per bottle at Whole Foods stores throughout the country.

In addition to the new Blueberry Lemonade and Peach Lemonade, the other lemonades in Sweet Leaf’s Lemonade Stand line are Organic Original Lemonade, which won a SOFI Award last year for Outstanding Cold Beverage and Organic Cherry Limeade.

“All of our lemonades are made with the same Granny-inspired goodness that defines our tea products, and we’re thrilled that people have embraced them so warmly and are starting to look for each summer’s limited edition,” says Clayton Christopher, CEO of Austin-based Sweet Leaf Tea.

Also unveiled today at the Fancy Food Show was the company’s new Organic Mango Green Tea, an organic, ready-to-drink tea made with premium organic green tea, organic mango juice, and pure, organic cane sugar. Bottles of Sweet Leaf’s Mango Green Tea will be available in 16-ounce glass bottles that will retail for between $1.39 and $1.59 each, and 20-ounce, recyclable PET bottles, which will retail for between $1.59 and $1.79 each.

Underscoring the success of Sweet Leaf’s Lemonade Stand line, the company also announced today that their Organic Peach Lemonade has been nominated for a Gold SOFI Award in the Outstanding USDA-Approved Organic Product category, for which hundreds of food and beverage products were considered. The SOFI Awards are being judged this year by a team of 400 industry experts, including retail buyers and food and beverage writers, and the winners will be announced here on Monday, June 30, at an event hosted by world-renowned chef, Jacques Pepin.

Sweet Leaf Tea also announced today that Tom First, one of the two co-founders of Nantucket Nectars and the founder of Owater, a bottled water company, has joined its board of directors. Over the course of his 12-year tenure as co-CEO of Nantucket Nectars, First created one of the most widely recognized ready-to-drink brands in the country. Nantucket Nectars was sold to Cadbury-Schweppes in 2002.

“I am proud and honored to be joining Sweet Leaf Tea’s board of directors, especially at this important juncture when the company is moving to the next level in brand awareness and sales,” First says. “Sweet Leaf has an unwavering commitment to authenticity, appeals to a wide variety of consumers, and represents goodness, both in terms of the products they make and the things they do. In my view, they’ve just scratched the surface of success and the best is yet to come.”

In addition to creating all-natural, Granny-inspired beverages, Sweet Leaf Tea is committed to supporting non-profit organizations.

Last month, Christopher appeared on The CBS Early Show to discuss the company’s donation of 1,000 bottles of tea to the nation’s largest-ever food drive and the more than 100 other non-profit efforts that the company has supported over the last 10 years.

“We are delighted that Tom has agreed to serve on our board of directors,” Christopher says. “As one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the ready-to-drink beverage category, Tom has tremendous expertise, experience, and a point of view that will be invaluable to us as we continue our strong growth.”