Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis, on July 20 announced its acquisition of Hiball Energy, a San Francisco-based maker of organic energy drinks and sparkling energy waters by the same name, as well as Alta Palla (“high ball” in Italian), a brand of organic sparkling juices and sparkling waters.
Hiball’s success in the energy and sparkling water categories – two fast-growing categories in the beverage industry – will further deepen A-B’s investments in the non-alcoholic market, AB Inbev says. Hiball Energy and Alta Palla, Hiball’s two signature brands, will benefit from Anheuser-Busch’s brand-building experience, its wholesaler network and its operational expertise.
Hiball’s team helped pioneer the category of natural, organic energy drinks aimed at consumers who want a boost of energy, with less or no sugar and organic ingredients. The energy drinks and sparkling energy waters are made with a proprietary, organic-certified energy blend of caffeine, guarana and ginseng. Hiball’s products target beverage trends such as health and wellness, natural and sustainably-sourced ingredients and energy-boosting products.
"Todd, Alyssa, Dan and the entire Hiball team have created an incredible business, developing some of the fastest-growing brands in the beverage industry and giving their loyal consumers the choices they love," said João Castro Neves, president and CEO, Anheuser-Busch. "There are some key similarities between our companies, including our desire to dream big, our passion for our people and our products, and our commitment to quality and sustainability in everything we do. Our goal is to deliver Hiball products to new markets, while preserving their culture and brand identities."
Hiball was formed in 2005 when its founder and president, Todd Berardi, began selling signature energy drinks out of the back of his car. The company now has 20 employees, and is still driven by a small passionate team of people, the company says. Berardi and his wife Alyssa Warnock, creative director and designer who designed all the branding and packaging, and Dan Craytor, vice president of business development, will continue to lead and manage the business.
Hiball says it will continue to aspire to reach an expanding audience of people who want quality ingredients.
In May, AB InBev announced it would invest $2 billion in U.S. breweries and innovation initiatives in the next three years. Anheuser-Busch plans a phased transition of the Hiball Energy and Alta Palla brands to its wholesaler partners. "We are thrilled to partner with Todd and the rest of the Hiball team. Hiball Energy and Alta Palla are great additions to our developing no-alcohol portfolio, and we have been asking A-B for a partnership opportunity just like this. Adding these outstanding brands to our wholesaler system increases the breadth of our product portfolio and strengthens our network as we offer more innovation to our customers," added David Stokes, chairman of the Anheuser-Busch wholesaler advisory panel. A-B and Hiball expect to close this transaction in the third quarter of this year. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.