Elsewhere online
October 16, 2014

Coca-Cola Alters Approach in Acquiring Cause-Focused Companies

The Wall Street Journal examines the strategic partnership between Coca-Cola and organic beverage maker Honest Tea as part of a series of articles on major multinational firms' evolving approach to teaming with mission-driven companies.

Honest Tea limits its use of sweeteners and promotes environmental and social causes. Company founder Seth Goldman said he agreed to join Coca-Cola in 2008 in large part because the beverage giant had recently created "an entity called Venturing and Emerging Brands specifically to invest in and build enterprises as opposed to just acquire them." Mr. Goldman relates some of the successes and challenges the partnership has bought so far.

Scott Uzzell, head of the emerging-brands unit, said Coca-Cola now recognizes that business-as-usual practices do not work with cause-driven firms. Previous articles in the Journal series looked at Coca-Cola's earlier, bumpier acquisition of natural-juice maker Odwalla, and how ice-cream company Ben & Jerry's was able to preserve socially minded aspects of its business after merging with Unilever.