First Bev Helps Quench Nestlé’s Thirst

First Bev has sold Essentia Water, a functional water brand, to Nestlé USA.

Essentia Water pioneered the development of ionized alkaline water in 1998 and, according to First Bev, is the #1 alkaline water brand sold nationally and the #1 selling bottled water brand in natural grocery stores. Essentia’s revenues in 2020 were $192 million.

Alkaline water has a higher pH level than plain water and, according to its supporters, its alkalinity can neutralize acidity in the body and have favorable effects on the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream, enhance the body’s metabolism, and prevent disease. Essentia Water has a pH of 9.5 or higher while normal water has a pH of approximately 7.

Essentia sources its water from local water supplies and through a reverse osmosis process removes contaminants. Next, the water is infused with a proprietary mineral blend and then ionized to remove bitter-tasting acidic ions and to raise the pH of water above 9.5.

The company’s products are available nationwide in approximately 50,000 retail locations – including major grocery stores and health/natural food stores – and online through Amazon. Essentia is headquartered near Seattle in Bothell, Washington.

“I am proud of our team and grateful for everyone who has supported us in creating Essentia,” said Ken Uptain, Essentia’s founder. “I was grateful to have Bill Anderson, Jack Belsito and the First Bev team as an investor and advisor for many years. They not only had a deep understanding of the beverage business but they also truly valued and appreciated the brand and the company I was working hard to create.”

“Essentia exemplifies the success that can be achieved through a strong vision and the expertise to execute on a winning strategy,” said Bill Anderson, the founder of First Bev. “We saw an opportunity to add real value and to partner with an outstanding executive team led by Ken Uptain, a smart and committed founder. We are excited and grateful for what Ken and his team were able to create with Essentia, and we look forward to its continued success with Nestlé.”

The buy Essentia is part of Nestlé’s transformation of its water business – announced in June 2020 – to focus on premium and mineral water brands and healthy hydration products, such as functional water. In February 2021, Nestle agreed to sell its US and Canadian spring water brands, purified water business and beverage delivery service to One Rock Capital Partners for $4.3 billion. The Essentia brand will join other water brands at Nestle including Perrier, San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna.

“With the addition of Essentia we continue to transform and best position our water business for long-term profitable growth here in the US and globally,” said Steve Presley, the chairman and CEO of Nestlé USA. “We are excited to welcome the Essentia team to the Nestlé family as we expand our premium water portfolio. Essentia gives us an immediate strong presence in the high-growth, functional water segment and supports our efforts to capture opportunities with emerging consumer trends such as healthy hydration.”

“This is what can happen when you combine a great brand, an outstanding team, and highly aligned investors,” added Jack Belsito, managing partner of First Bev. “Nestle is getting a gem.”

First Bev invests from $2 million to $15 million in beverage companies – brands, suppliers, retailers, technology – that have revenues of $1 million to $15 million. The firm was founded in 2005 and is headquartered in Los Angeles with an additional office in New York City.

Nestlé is one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies. The company’s products include baby food, medical food, bottled water, breakfast cereals, coffee and tea, confectionery, dairy products, ice cream, frozen food, pet foods, and snacks. Nestle was founded in 1866 and today employs more than 325,000 people with a headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland.

© 2021 Private Equity Professional | March 11, 2021

Print Friendly, PDF & Email