The organic bottled tea company that started 16 years ago in a Bethesda kitchen just sold its one billionth beverage.
Bethesda-based Honest Tea, co-founded in 1998 by resident Seth Goldman, made the announcement on Thursday. Over the years, the company has bought about 22 million pounds of organic ingredients, making it one of the leaders of the organic food movement.
“Sixteen years ago, it almost felt like I sold every bottle myself. It’s nice to see our brand and mission reach an audience well beyond my personal sales route!,” Goldman said in a press release. “This is a testament to the persistence and faith of our team as well as the increasing acceptance of organic ingredients.”
That first year, Goldman sold about 300,000 bottles. The company grew at a rapid pace. In almost 10 years, Honest Tea was in 15,000 stores and had sold roughly 112 million bottles. But the 2008 partnership with the Coca-Cola Company (and Coca-Cola’s full purchase of Honest Tea in 2011) made it a global brand.
Since Coca-Cola’s investment, Honest Tea’s availability has grown to more than 100,000 outlets, and resulted in sales of more than 888 million additional units. In turn, Honest Tea’s demand for organic ingredients has increased from 800,000 pounds in 2007 to an estimated 8 million pounds in 2014.
Honest Tea converted its entire line of teas to fair trade, meaning more than half a million dollars of economic impact in the communities in India, China, South African and others that produce the ingredients.
“One of our core missions is to democratize organics,” Goldman said. “Now when I visit with our suppliers, they know it’s not just some guy who started a company out of his house, it’s a representative of The Coca-Cola Company.”
Through that time, the company’s headquarters have remained in Bethesda — first in Woodmont Triangle, now on Bethesda Avenue.