Reports from the BevNet Live Conference

The BevNet Live Conference in Santa Monica wrapped up on Tuesday this week. It was a sold-out event with 800+ attendees. For those not able to attend, here’s reports and resources to help you catch up on the trends in the beverage industry. We focus in on the kombucha-related content.

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Trends

Food Navigator US reporter Elaine Watson live-tweeted from the event. She lists a series trends (“…from seasmemilk and fizzy juice to tea infused with hops”)  in a slideshow that highlights the stunning 170% annual sales growth achieved by Heath-Ade Kombucha.

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Watson’s tweets include the comment by an Anheuser Busch executive that health & wellness is now an unstoppable trend in the food & beverage space. The company that has brewed suds for generations of Americans (“This Buds for You”) is launching a ‘Beyond Beer’ non-alcoholic portfolio.

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Live Stream

End-to-end coverage of both days of the event–Monday Dec 3 & Tuesday Dec 4–are available on YouTube.

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The Dec 3rd video is 9 hours 29 minutes long and covers this agenda. The Dec 4th video is 6 hours 27 minutes and covers this agenda.

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GTs Kombucha

The kombucha-related highlight of the event was undoubtedly the presentation by GT Dave, introduced as “the category creator of the kombucha industry”. We’ve cued the Dec 3rd video at the start of GT Dave’s talk:

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GT Dave was introduced as a creative force in the kombucha industry. His talk focused on a series of seasonal offerings.

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An opening music video shows Dave celebrating the “Unity” theme of his products, dancing with customers on the palm-tree studded California streets. They celebrate the human spirit and the things that unify people. They look to excite and inspire their customers on a 23 year journey that began in 1995.  Dave started his company and found his purpose when he was just 15 years old.  Along the way, he’s overcome distractions and financial worries that threaten to erode the soul. He reinvented the product logo in 2017 and renamed his company “GTs Living Foods”. GTs makes a conscious effort to connect. Each of their Seasonal Offerings is anchored with a story.

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Winter  Season = Pure Love. Each bottle is made with, and reinterprets, love pure love. Anchored by Valentine’s Day. They shared the “Love is…” story with their “fans and brand lovers” who were encouraged to post #purelove hashtag stories on social media.

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Spring Season = Bloom. This celebrates inspiration, personal tansformation and the opportunity to be reborn. They chose 12 people to share a story that an artist interpreted as butterfly wings. (Can you tell this is a California-based company yet?) For each #bloom hastag they donated to Lady Gaga’s foundation.

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Summer Season = Unity. Inspired by the Cochella music festival. They celebrate unity and inspiring stories.

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Fall Season = Living in Gratitude. Celebrates Thanksgiving and asks customer “What are you grateful for?”. They donate 10 meals for each social media posting.

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Each seasonal campaign is an arc of a story. Their latest “Alive” offering is an adptogenic tea. Classic Gold is a 3% ABV hard kombucha.

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GTs childhood in a “spiritual household” inspired the latest Dreamcatcher brand. This is a CBD infused plant-based kombucha. The new Dreamcatcher offering complements their Cannabliss brand.

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House Kombucha

Towards the end of the day on Dec 3rd, the Livestream included an interview with San Francisco Bay Area-based House Kombucha founder Rana Chang (at 8:33:30). Rana describes the 10-year journey of House Kombucha from the early days when she brewed in her kitchen, constantly educating people as to “what is kombucha”.

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She believes kombucha needs to stay true to its roots as a craft brewed beverage and not try and “grab the Red Bull vitamin mineral market”.  She has seen her customer-base in the San Francisco Bay Area change over the years. She’s now looking to take advantage of expanded capacity following the purchase of better equipment. However, while interested in partnering to expand nationally, he’s happy to stay a local brand.

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The company has a taproom open one day a week when loyal customers stop by to fill their growlers. She’s proud of the “tea-forward” aspect of the style of kombucha she brews.

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There might well be other kombucha-related content in the 16 hours of video. If you happen to know of any, please share the timecode in the comments below.

 

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