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Coke reportedly may buy Honest Tea stake

BY Tara Smith

ATLANTA Coka-cola is close to buying a stake in the boutique tea company Honest Beverages, a Bethesda, Md.-based maker of organic teas and juices under the brand Honest Teas, Beverage Digest reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Coke and Honest Beverages representatives could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

If the Honest move proves true, it could help Coke build up its noncarbonated offerings to better compete with rival Pepsi. Last year, Coke bought Fuze and Glaceau, the maker of Vitaminwater, to strengthen its portfolio in the growing energy drink and water categories.

Honest Tea, founded in 1998, had sales of $23 million in 2007 and has 52 employees. The brand’s teas and juices are sold at Kroger, Target and Whole Foods. The privately held company had total volume of just under 2 million 192-ounce cases in 2006, according to Beverage Digest.

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Refocusing, Campbell Sells Godiva for $850 million

BY Tara Smith

CAMDEN, N.J. The Campbell Soup Co. agreed on Thursday to sell its Godiva Chocolatier unit to Yildiz Holding of Turkey, the largest consumer goods company in the Turkish food industry, for $850 million. Godiva will become part of the Ulker Group, which is owned by Yildiz.

The sale would help Campbell, which reported a 7.2 percent drop in fiscal first-quarter net income in November as a result of higher expenses, in part at Godiva. In addition, the company decided that the Belgian chocolate maker with $500 million in annual sales may not fit its increasing focus on marketing its products as part of a healthy lifestyle.

“The sale price reflects the strength of the Godiva business,” said Douglas Conant, Campbell’s chief executive. “Godiva is one of the world’s leading premium chocolate businesses and is an excellent strategic fit within Ulker’s portfolio.”

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Anheuser-Busch to distribute Starr Hill brew

BY Tara Smith

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. Anheuser-Busch announced Tuesday that it will distribute products from Starr Hill Brewery under a new agreement. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Star Hill stated the agreement will allow the Charlottesville-based brewery to use A-B’s nationwide distribution resources to distribute its beers outside of its core base in Virginia. Brewing and marketing decisions will remain the responsibility of Starr Hill and its management.

Starr Hill’s products include Starr Hill amber ale, a malty, full-flavored beer; Starr Hill Jomo Lager, a German-tradition lager; Starr Hill pale ale, a medium-bodied beer; and Starr Hill Dark Starr stout, an Irish-style ale.

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