Plant-based beverage company Zola was acquired by California-based cannabis company Caliva. The acquisition will help Caliva broaden its vertically integrated cannabis business into the beverage market through access to Zola’s established retail distribution network, as well as its research and development infrastructure.
Caliva produces cannabis buds, oil products, and vape.
Zola, which is headquartered in San Francisco, California, promotes natural hydration through beverages made from plant-based ingredients. Its products include sugarless and organic sparkling energy water, coconut water, and organic hydrating energy drink all in different fruit flavors.
Chris Cuvelier, Zola founder and CEO, will continue to lead the brand. He will also take the role of Caliva’s head of beverage. Speaking to BevNET, Cuvelier said that he will develop THC-infused drinks that will be sold in dispensaries in California under the Caliva trademark. He said that they currently don’t have any plans to develop THC-infused drinks under the Zola brand.
Cuvelier added that they will also develop CBD-infused drinks, this time under both Zola and Caliva brands. The CBD drinks will be sold to mainstream retailers across the U.S., leveraging Zola’s existing distribution infrastructure and team.
He said that Caliva already started developing beverages that the company expects to launch later this year. For this, the cannabis company wants to have a beverage manufacturing facility up and running by August.
Cuvelier assures that Zola will continue to make and sell its existing organic products.
“We got a unique opportunity to build a portfolio of brands that can gain product authenticity in the cannabis channel and can also be infused with hemp-based CBD in the mainstream markets,” Cuvelier said.
He added that they will likely create a sub-brand under Zola that would focus on CBD and leverage Zola’s position within the plant-based beverages sector.
Cuvelier shared that Zola and Caliva first came together in October 2018 when he and Caliva’s CEO, Dennis O’Malley, spoke at an eBev Series conference panel about disruption in the beverage industry. He then started consulting with Caliva in November, before deciding to put Zola on sale this year.
Caliva, meanwhile, was launched in 2015 and has established a presence in California’s burgeoning cannabis market. The company operates a 110,000-square foot facility in San Jose that includes 13 grow rooms, a genetics lab, a dispensary, and an oil extraction facility. Caliva’s products are sold in at least 250 dispensaries in the state. Caliva currently also runs its own DSD network.