September 28, 2010

The Kombucha kerfuffle

Kombucha was a popular item at our store. I say "was" because the US FDA and the TTB decided to get themselves involved. A good writeup on the whole mess can be found at Inc. Magazine
Small Kombucha Brewers Find Themselves in Hot Water
Demand for very few products has grown as fast as that for kombucha, the fizzy, tea-like beverage with the tart, vinegary taste. Packed with probiotics because it's brewed with a living culture, kombucha has been promoted for aiding digestion, boosting energy, and providing other health benefits.

During the product's meteoric rise, celebrities talked it up, Whole Foods embraced it, and dozens of small brewers sprang up to meet burgeoning demand. Sales doubled annually for the past four years, reaching $150 million in 2009.

Then, just as suddenly as stores started stocking kombucha, various brands of the drink disappeared from beverage cases around the country.

What happened? Interviews with small producers and industry insiders suggest an intricate web of events that led to the nascent's industry implosion. The story seems to begin with a retired software entrepreneur in Maine who wanted to teach his daughter a lesson in entrepreneurship, and ends with a federal inquiry into the tea�s content. Along the way, the country's largest natural foods retailer pressured a major distributor into halting national delivery of kombucha.
Posted by DaveH at September 28, 2010 8:26 PM
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