BETHESDA, MD. — Organic bottled tea maker Honest Tea increased its purchases of organic ingredients by more than 500,000 lbs during 2012, up 13% from 2011 and more than six times the amount purchased during 2007. The company also reformulated its Honest Kids line by removing the organic cane sugar and increasing the organic fruit juice content.
The moves represent a few of Honest Tea’s innovation and sustainability efforts detailed in the company’s 2013 Mission Report issued Oct. 22.
“There is no such thing as a socially responsible business because that term suggests that an enterprise has reached a destination and there is no more work to be done,” said Seth Goldman, co-founder and TeaEO of Honest Tea. “Our annual mission report helps Honest Tea and its stakeholders understand where we’ve made progress, and how much more work we have to do. Our progress in growing the demand and the supply of organic ingredients helps illustrate that our efforts to democratize organic and healthy beverages are bearing some fruit, but there is still more work to be done.”
Organic ingredients are a core part of the Honest Tea business. The company created the first organic ready-to-drink bottled tea in 1999, and in 2004 converted all of its tea and juice drinks to certified organic. This past year Honest Tea moved to sweeten its Honest Kids organic juice drinks only with fruit juice. The company had been sourcing organic white grape juice concentrate since the launch of Honest Ade in 2005, but the reformulation substantially increased its orders.
Honest Tea said the transition required more than simply revising its purchase order.
“Our sourcing team traveled to Turkey and Argentina, along with several orthodox rabbis, to inspect and certify the white grape juice crop as kosher,” the company noted in the report. “After months of planning, our orders now account for a majority of the world’s kosher, organic white grape juice supply.”
Honest Tea also has altered its sourcing of organic ingredient purchases. The company said it expects to buy 5,000 lbs more of organic erythritol in 2013 than it did in 2012, 270% more organic white grape juice, and 70% more organic stevia.
This year also marked a change in the way Honest Tea measures antioxidants. Prior to 2013, the company had an illustration on the labels of its Honey Green Tea and Peach White Tea stating the levels of catechins in the bottle. But in April Honest Tea switched what it measures to “flavonoids” from “catechins.”“We use an independent lab to verify the claims we make through ongoing testing,” the company said. “Flavonoids are a more comprehensive classification of antioxidants that includes all types of catechins. Labels that reflect the flavonoid levels started appearing on shelves in April 2013.”