Coca-Cola has become the largest shareholder of Keurig Green Mountain by increasing its stake in the single-cup coffee giant to 16%, according to reports.
Earlier this year, Coca-Cola purchased a 10% minority equity stake in the company for an estimated $1.25 billion and agreed to provide its beverages in single-pod form for the Keurig Gold cold-beverage machine, scheduled for release later this year.
Tom Pirko, president of beverage consulting firm Bevmark observed that the strategy is part of Coca-Cola’s “creeping acquisition policy” and may eventually result in a full acquisition.
“This is something that’s pretty standard with Atlanta right now, where they buy a share and then increase that share to the point where if they’re really happy with the investment, they’ll buy it out entirely,” he said. “They didn’t increase it to 50% but they have enough of stake to in some ways gently determine the future of Keurig. They’re kind of waiting to see how it all comes together.”
Retailers are also likely taking note, said Pirko, given Coca-Cola’s intent to market its beverages — which take up a sizeable portion of supermarket beverage aisles in bottle and can form — in Keurig Gold-compatible pods.
“What we have here is an enormous retail business that is looking to transfer some of its energy to in-home preparation,” he said. “Of course people still have to buy pods and capsules, but essentially when a brand begins some kind of a migration away from retail, that makes things different for the supermarket buyers. They don’t want to see this great retail presence, that has made everyone rich, transferred away from the store. They’re going to try to drive harder bargains and may say 'okay, if you’re going to move this away from us and you want to keep all this shelf space, you’re going to have to give us a little more in terms of our discounts and promotions.'”