Why Founder And Former CEO Seth Goldman Called Honest Tea's End 'Brutal' - Exclusive

In May 2022, Coca-Cola announced its decision to phase out the Honest Tea line by the end of 2022, focusing solely on its other two tea brands, Gold Peak and Peace Tea. Coca-Cola acquired the Honest Tea brand from serial entrepreneur Seth Goldman in 2011, after Goldman had spent over a decade building it up as a staple organic and fair trade beverage offering. After the acquisition, Goldman stuck around to assist Honest Tea until moving on to fully focus on other enterprises in 2019. Now, he's involved with Beyond Meat and Plant Burgers, but also Eat the Change, a food brand with a mission to, according to Goldman, "present people with more planet-friendly options."

But even with all of these other endeavors on his plate, Coca-Cola's decision to discontinue Honest Tea was still a shock and, as Goldman said on Twitter shortly after the announcement, "a gut punch." In a recent exclusive interview, Goldman told Mashed why Honest Tea's end was so "brutal."

Honest Tea's tragic end

For Seth Goldman, Honest Tea's purpose has always been partially focused on making a positive impact on those who put in the work to bring Honest Tea to store shelves. When Coca-Cola decided to phase out the brand, Goldman's attention was immediately on those same people.

He told Mashed, "It's tragic. It's so sad — all the people, all the work, all the supply chains behind it, who really invested in it, these farms. While we're talking, I'll pull up an email I got from one of our suppliers. It was heartbreaking to hear ... He said, 'Honest Tea is very connected to our own gardens and people, so the news is definitely a gut punch for us as well. While the financial consequences are material, the loss of confidence in organic and fair trade agriculture that this decision is likely to engender in the wider community is very saddening and probably more consequential, especially in terms of lost motivation at origins. We've been so inspired to be part of the journey that you led and want to try to continue the effort and fight the suggestion that this was all a failed experiment.'"

Goldman added, "That's brutal, and I share those concerns. So, as you probably heard, we are not sitting by idly and watching that happen to these communities or to our consumers."

In response to the new void in the marketplace, Goldman and the Eat the Change brand will be releasing a line of organic bottled teas in late 2022, with plans for nationwide distribution. Keep up to date on all things Eat the Change and watch for more information about Seth Goldman's upcoming tea line on the Eat the Change website.