One of the biggest beverage companies in North America is investing in America’s fastest growing craft non-alcoholic beer company. Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP) just announced a minority stake in Athletic Brewing Co. According to the release, the $50 million investment gives KDP an equity stake in Athletic Brewing that is comparable to other lead investors like TRB Advisors and Alliance Consumer Growth. KDP will also have a seat on the company’s board of directors. This is part of a whopping $75 million Series D funding round.
I’m sure you can gather from the name, Keurig Dr Pepper is a giant beverage rollup that owns a zillion brands — famous names like Keurig, Dr Pepper, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Canada Dry, Snapple and Bai (for starters). The company has an annual revenue approaching $13 billion and employs around 27,000 employees. The company also appears to have a growing interest in the non-alcohol beverage sector. The Athletic investment follows KDP’s acquisition of non-alcoholic ready-to-drink cocktail brand Atypique this summer. From the release:
“Athletic Brewing is a winning brand in a rapidly growing beverage segment. Our investment reflects our interest and ability to move into exciting white spaces, including in the blurring of the alcoholic and non-alcoholic categories” said Keurig Dr Pepper Executive Chairman Bob Gamgort. “We look forward to partnering with the Athletic Brewing team to help them scale the business.”
Ever since Athletic Brewing was founded in 2017, the brand has been buzzing. Athletic Brewing Co. is a Stratford, Conn.-based brewery that has quickly established itself as a leading NA brand in a time when the sector is opening up in America. The company was the 27th biggest craft brewery in America in 2021, according to the Brewers Association Top 50 list, which is the first time an NA-dedicated brand has ever made the top 50 (let alone number 27). In 2020, the company grew almost 500 percent year-over-year for the second year in a row. Athletic was named one of Time‘s “100 Most Influential Companies of 2022” (check it). You get the idea. This brand is blasting in all directions.
Athletic Brewing has had lots of support to make it all happen — like when it closed on $17.5M in Series B funding and then $50M in Series C funding or when it came to light that some of the investors in the company are famous folks from athletes to chefs — J.J. Watt, Lance Armstrong, Momofuku restaurateur David Chang. The company has definitely changed the NA landscape in America, evolving the low-no alcohol beer category, making NA a cool, healthy choice and not an apologetic, alcoholic stigma.
Athletic is busy on all fronts. It earned Certified B Corp status in the spring. The company launched its new brand campaign Fit For All Times this past September. Athletic dropped its app in October. This is a company that’s only like five years old. Athletic Brewing was founded in 2017 by Bill Shufelt and John Walker.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Keurig Dr Pepper as an investor and strategic partner,” Shufelt said. “Their team brings a tremendous amount of expertise and truly embraces our mission of brewing great-tasting non-alcoholic beers that are fit for all times. This investment will enable Athletic Brewing to further accelerate our growth across North America.”
Some other fun stats from the release: Non-alcoholic beer in the United States grew almost 20 percent in retail dollars over the past year, with the craft segment, where Athletic Brewing holds a 55 percent market share, far outpacing total category growth. Today, non-alcoholic beer accounts for over 85 percent of total sales in the fast-growing category of non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirits. This all comes from NielsenIQ Scan Off Premise Channels reports (latest 52-week ending 08/20/2022).