Bethesda-based Honest Tea is moving its operations to Atlanta, a spokeswoman for parent company Coca Cola said Wednesday.
The organic tea company Seth Goldman co-founded in 1998 will be part of the Coca-Cola Company’s headquarters in Atlanta, Coca-Cola spokeswoman Devon Gunn wrote in an email Wednesday morning.
Goldman said in an interview on Wednesday that he is leaving Honest Tea by the end of this year and soon will be part of a new Bethesda-based business in the food field. He declined to say more about it.
Goldman announced on Honest Tea’s website last week that he will leave the company to continue to spend time on his other business venture, Beyond Meat — a California-based company that produces plant-based meat substitutes.
In the announcement he posted, Goldman also said he would spend time on “another enterprise,” but gave no details.
“Though the mission is what motivates me, I’m still an entrepreneur at heart, and relish the role of being a challenger. So it’s time to build something new,” he wrote Nov. 14.
Since 2015, Goldman has had a lesser role in the company, stepping down from his role as “TeaEO” and becoming TeaEO emeritus.
Coca-Cola bought Honest Tea in 2011.
Coca-Cola wrote in a statement Wednesday that the move would happen at the end of January and most of the nine full-time employees in Bethesda would relocate to Atlanta.
Goldman said his decision to step down was separate from the relocation, which was Coca-Cola’s decision.
“I do think the roots of Honest Tea are in Bethesda. And as I evolved into a different part of my career, they made their own decision,” he said.
Goldman said Coca-Cola first became an investor in 2008 and has helped the company grow internationally, to the point where the brand is now in 150,000 stores. He said the company can now “stand on its own” without his involvement.
“That all gave me reassurance. And what ultimately tipped it for me was the need for me to take on a new challenge,” he said.
In its 2018 annual report, Honest Tea highlighted its support of Fair Trade ingredients over the past 16 years. The company has paid more than $2 million to Fair Trade suppliers during that period. In 2018, Honest Tea reported buying 8.5 million pounds of fair trade ingredients.
The report pointed out that Honest Tea is being marketed to Europe and is the first organic product Coca-Cola is marketing globally.
In 2017, McDonalds started carrying Honest Tea’s “Appley Ever After” in its stores and Boston Market also began carrying Honest Tea products. As of 2018, there were 53,000 American restaurants carrying Honest Tea products.
Goldman said his new Bethesda-based business will be food-related. He expects it to be up and running within the first quarter of next year, he said.
“It’s safe to say it will be in the food and beverage space and will connect people to more healthy and sustainable diets,” he said.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org