ATLANTA -- Coca-Cola Co. and Nestlé SA said they are ending their joint venture to sell iced tea in the U.S., as well as in many other countries. Their decadelong Beverage Partners Worldwide partnership will focus exclusively on selling ready-to-drink tea in Europe and Canada.
The termination of the licensing deal will allow the two companies to pursue their own strategies on ready-to-drink teas in the U.S. Coke recently bought organic tea company Honest Tea, markets Gold Peak iced tea and is reportedly gearing up to launch a tea brand under its Fuze label. Nestlé markets its flagship Nestea brand and owns the Sweet Leaf Tea Co.
Rival PepsiCo Inc. dominates the category with its Lipton RTD teas under a joint venture with Unilever NV.
Coca-Cola, headquartered in Atlanta, and Switzerland-based Nestlé created the Beverage Partners Worldwide joint venture in 2001, following another undertaking called Coca-Cola and Nestlé Refreshments.
As part of the new arrangement, Coke will maintain a license agreement for Nestea in Taiwan and Hong Kong. In some 60 other countries, the joint venture will be phased out by the end of this year.