6 Leading Fermented Beverages


Fermented beverages are in serious growth mode as consumers look to enhance their digestion and gut health.

U.S. retail sales of kombucha and other fermented beverages surged 37.4% in 2017, according to SPINS, a Chicago-based data and consulting solutions firm. That growth came in part at the expense of shelf-stable coconut water, which saw sales down 7.4% over the same period.

Speaking recently at the fifth annual KombuchaKon conference—yes, there really is such a thing—Bobbi Leahy, SPINS director of sales, said fermented-beverage velocity is particularly strong in the conventional multioutlet and convenience channels, which accounted for 69% of kombucha and other fermented-beverage sales. This compares with a 53% contribution in 2014. The increase in sales and units reflects the overall acceptance of fermented beverages by mainstream consumers, Leahy said.

Within the natural category, the top five brands are GT’s, KeVita, Health Ade, Brew Dr and Live Soda, which all experienced double-digit growth in 2017. Several new players also entered the category, including Suja, Bambucha Kombucha and Shen Zen Tea.

Click through to view six viable fermented-beverage options for c-stores.

1. Suja Life


Suja Life LLC, Oceanside, Calif., uses a low heat process to create its brew, which is known to kill off residual yeast but doesn’t destroy beneficial bacteria remaining in the brew post-fermentation. Its three pressed-juice lines are Classic, Elements and Suja, plus functional beverages: Probiotic Water, Probiotic Vinegar Juice and Kombucha.

2. Farmhouse Culture

farmhouse culture

Brands such as Farmhouse Culture, Goodbelly, LifeWay and BluePrint Juice have entered the fermented-beverage category. There’s probably only one good kind of gut punch, and Farmhouse Culture, Watsonville, Calif., dishes it out with Cherry Cacao Gut Punch, a fusion of cherries and chocolate. The kvass-style sparkling probiotic beverage carries a hint of sweetness and is balanced with a slight earthy note from its fermented-beet base.

3. Brew Dr Kombucha

organic raw brew dr kombucha 10 flavors

SPINS data shows kombucha sales are strongest on the West Coast, paced by adoption in San Diego, Seattle, Portland, Spokane and San Francisco. That made for a logical home for Brew Dr Kombucha in Portland, Ore. The company starts with the same organic tea blends served at its Townshend’s Teahouses. No juices or flavors are added after fermentation, making it a truly organic and 100% raw kombucha with the most naturally occurring probiotics possible.

4. KeVita

KeVita Kombucha

Ginger and berries are top two flavor profiles for fermented beverages, according to SPINS. Oxnard, Calif.-based KeVita’s Master Brew Kombucha is capitalizing on that with its Blueberry Basil variety, which projects a slightly floral berry note paired with a kick of peppery basil, the company said. Fermented with its proprietary kombucha tea culture, Master Brew Kombucha has billions of live probiotics and active cultures, and is a verified nonalcohol product.

5. Live Soda LLC

raw live

Price points for fermented beverages have softened to a degree in the conventional and natural channels, with unit sales growth slightly outpacing dollar sales, according to Leahy of SPINS. One unit-sales leader among the top five is Live Soda LLC, Austin, Texas. It proclaims that the “doctor is in” with its Doctor Kombucha, which provides a touch of spice while packing a peppery punch. The brew is crafted with notes of sweet cherry, spicy clove, caramel and molasses, the company said.

6. Health-Ade Kombucha

health aide lineup

The top 10 brands of kombucha account for 96% of retail sales in the conventional channel and almost 90% in the natural channel, according to SPINS. Within the natural channel, one of those pacesetters is Health-Ade Kombucha. It flavor varieties include Holiday Cheers, California Grape, Blood Orange-Carrot-Ginger and Ginger-Lemon Chalk, the latter full of cold-pressed juice from organic, raw ginger and lemon.