Nonalcoholic beer maker Athletic Brewing raises $50 million

Nonalcoholic beer maker Athletic Brewing raises  million

Company founder Bill Shufelt (left) and head brewer John Walker pause at the Athletic Brewing’s nonalcoholic brewery and production plant on March 20, 2019 in Stratford, Connecticut.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Leading nonalcoholic brewer Athletic Brewing Company announced Tuesday it’s raised an additional $50 million in equity financing in a round led by General Atlantic. 

The company expects General Atlantic to “ultimately invest significantly beyond that,” Athletic CEO and founder Bill Shufelt told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Tuesday morning. The brewer plans to use the latest investment to increase production capacity and expand its offerings at global retailers to meet rising consumer demand for nonalcoholic beer.

“We are passionate about transforming the way modern adults drink and converting critics into believers. We’re at the start of a long-term trend, and we couldn’t be more excited to have General Atlantic by our side as Athletic begins its next phase of growth,” the company said in a press release.

Athletic Brewing CEO on rise of nonalcoholic beer: It's all about occasion growth

Athletic Brewing launched its nonalcoholic craft brewing facilities in 2018 and has since grown to become the 10th largest U.S. craft brewery and 20th largest overall U.S. brewing company, despite only offering nonalcoholic options, according to rankings by the Brewers Association. 

Athletic holds over 19% market share within nonalcoholic beer and is driving 32% of total nonalcoholic beer category growth, according to NielsenIQ data.

“Revenue has more than doubled since our Series D [funding round] about 18 months ago,” Shufelt said on CNBC.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday the company’s valuation has also doubled with the latest fundraising and now stands at $800 million.

The company currently has two brewing facilities in the U.S., one in Milford, Connecticut, and the second in San Diego. Athletic recently announced the purchase of a third U.S. brewing facility, also located in San Diego. Once operational, Athletic expects the facility to help double its U.S. brewing capacity.

“We sold well over 3 million cases, over a 100 million cans, did over $90 million in revenue last year as a company, and we are growing well above that this year,” Shufelt said.

The company’s success is largely attributed to growing health and wellness trends that are driving consumer interest in nonalcoholic beverages.

More than 40% of Americans say they are actively trying to drink less alcohol in 2024, according to recent data by NCSolutions. That percentage jumps to 49% when surveying millennials and 61% for Generation Z, according to the data.

Established beer companies like Heineken, Constellation Brands-owned Corona, Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser and even Diageo’s Guinness have also hopped on the trend, introducing nonalcoholic beer offerings of their own.

“We want to give people beer they can drink seven nights a week and feel good about,” Shufelt said. “We’ve invested over $100 million in our manufacturing which has really differentiated quality that this segment has never seen before.”

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