Changes are afoot at The Coca-Cola Company’s Venturing and Emerging Brands (VEB) unit, with an internal memorandum detailing structural changes set to take effect in the new year, including staff reductions and a shifting of select brands into the broader Coke system.
In a copy of the memo shared with BevNET, dated Dec. 4 and titled “VEB Organizational Update,” VEB president Scott Uzzell framed a series of changes, set to take effect January 1, as part of the greater evolution of corporate structure at Coca-Cola North America (CCNA). As the company has stepped up its work “marketing and selling a broader portfolio of beverages,” VEB is making changes to “sharpen our focus against CCNA’s overall portfolio strategy— with a goal of further accelerating the growth of our total beverage portfolio through our unique role.”
Citing VEB’s role as “futurist, investor, incubator and integrator,“ Uzell wrote, “Over the last 11 years as the VEB Business Unit we’ve learned that we are most successful when we stay true to these core strategic pillars. And as our own beverage landscape in North America continues to evolve, it’s clearer than ever that our ability to win depends on the ability to dedicate the resources and time within VEB to spot the right trends, invest in them, incubate them and, finally, help integrate them into our broad business system.”
VEB, founded in 2007, is charged with identifying and supporting the growth of beverage brands with billion-dollar potential through investment or acquisition.
The memo outlines the creation of several new business units that will house brands within the larger CCNA ecosystem once they have been fully acquired and are ready to graduate from VEB. Imported mineral water brand Topo Chico, which was purchased last year for $220 million, and coconut water maker Zico will be transitioned into the Still Business Unit, while Hansen’s and Blue Sky Beverage Company, both acquired by VEB from Monster Energy in 2015, will move to the Sparkling Business Unit. Meanwhile, Hubert’s Lemonade and VEB’s Natural Channel Sales Team, which supports an additional 14 brands from outside the group, will be folded into the Minute Maid Business Unit based in Sugarland, Texas.
Zico will continue to be run from its current headquarters in El Segundo, Calif., but will gain additional incubation and R&D capacity as part of its transformation into VEB’s West Coast Emerging Office. The East Coast Emerging Office will be in Honest’s current home in Bethesda, MD, but without any additional capabilities.
Brands in VEB’s investment portfolio, which includes Fairlife, Suja, and BodyArmor, will not be affected.