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Duvel Moortgat acquires majority stake in London Kombucha brand

Family-owned Belgian brewer Duvel has bought a majority stake in an east London-based Kombucha brand.

JARR Kombucha, a fermented tea hand-bottled in Hackney Wick, was first launched in 2015 Adam Vanni, Tom and Jess Seaton, and Neil Hinchley, and has gained listings in bars, restaurants and cafes across the country such as Soho House, Selfridges, Planet Organic, Harrods and Sourced Market.

The new partnership with Duvel Moortgat, in which Duvel now owns 60% of the Kombucha business, will allow JARR to “significantly increase production,” according to an emailed statement. The start-up will have access to Duvel’s UK distribution network, and will use the funds raised from the acquisition to develop a new site in London.

The company will continue to be run by the JARR founders.

Vanni said the Belgian brewer “shares our values and vision for the future. We are looking forward to teaming up with them and bringing great kombucha to more people than ever before.”

Michel Moortgat, CEO of Duvel, said the process used to make kombucha is “very similar to that of beer.”

“It is the result of all natural ingredients brewed to a tasteful drink by highly passionate people,” he said.

“We can now offer our consumers a different yet equally high quality brewed premium drink.”

The acquisition also strengthens Duvel’s position in the non-alcoholic drinks market, something many brewers are moving towards thanks to the steady decline of alcohol consumption worldwide. US brewer Molson Coors bought a majority stake in California’s Clearly Kombucha in June this year, which produces a range of organic, gluten-free, vegan and kosher fermented tea beverages.

And in August, Heineken-owned brewery Lagunitas launched a non-alcoholic sparkling water inspired by its eponymous, flagship IPA.

A spokesperson said the purchase “answers increasing market demand for low to non-alcoholic drinks.”

Though the departure into non-alcoholic drinks is novel, this is not the first acquisition Duvel has made this year. The company increased its stake in Italian brewery Birrificio del Ducato to 70% last February after acquiring its initial 35% share in 2016.

Counting JARR, Duvel Moorgat now has 11 breweries in its portfolio including Brasserie d’Achouffe in Houffalize, Brouwerij De Koninck in Antwerp, Brouwerij Liefmans in Oudenaarde, Brouwerij Bernard in the Czech Republic, Brewery Ommegang in New York , Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, Firestone Walker in California, Brouwerij ’t IJ in Amsterdam, and Birrificio del Ducato.

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