The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, said it acquired the remaining stake in Fairlife LLC from its joint venture partner Select Milk Producers. Coca-Cola now owns 100% of Fairlife, up from its previous 42.5% minority stake. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Fairlife, which launched in 2012, started with a high-protein milk shake called Core Power and has grown to offer a broad portfolio of products in the fast-growing value-added dairy category in North America, Coca-Cola said. Fairlife will continue to operate as a stand-alone business based in Chicago.
“We are excited for the next chapter of Fairlife’s growth and innovation and look forward to continuing to work with our partners across the Coca-Cola system to meet fast-changing consumer needs in a vibrant category,” Fairlife CEO Tim Doelman said. “We set out in 2012 to harness the power and nutrition of dairy and give people great-tasting products that provide the nutrition they are looking for. Our innovative product lines will continue to grow and improve with the strength and scale of The Coca-Cola Company.”
Value-added dairy products have been growing steadily in the United States, in contrast to the traditional fluid milk category. Fairlife ultra-filtered milk debuted in 2014, and sales have grown sharply since then, Coca-Cola noted, with strong double-digit growth each year since launch. According to Nielsen AMC, Fairlife surpassed $500 million in retail sales last year.
Fairlife’s continued growth has been supported by new product innovation — ranging from lactose-free ultra-filtered milk with less sugar and more protein than competing brands to high-protein recovery and nutrition shakes and drinkable snacks.
The brand also has been supported by the reach of Coca-Cola’s U.S. system, with products distributed through the Minute Maid distribution system, as well as by Coca-Cola bottlers across the country. In 2018, Fairlife also launched in Canada and will begin local production and sourcing in Ontario in spring 2020, Coca-Cola said. Fairlife is also continuing to expand production capabilty in the United States by complementing production in Coopersville, Mich., and Waco, Texas, with a new facility under construction in Goodyear, Ariz.
“Fairlife is a great example of how we’re continually expanding our total beverage portfolio to bring people more of the brands they love,” said Jim Dinkins, president of Coca-Cola North America. “This agreement will help ensure that we continue to build on Fairlife’s innovative history by combining their entrepreneurial spirit and innovation capabilities with the resources, reach and expertise of Coca-Cola.”