Kathleen McLaughlin
The Bulletin

Humm Kombucha canceled plans to open a second plant in Roanoke, Virginia, citing greater efficiency and production capacity in Bend.

CEO Jamie Danek sent a statement to the city of Roanoke, which is in the process of unwinding its economic development agreement with Humm, said Rob Ledger, Roanoke’s interim economic development director.

Danek couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday. Her statement says the company has become more efficient over the past year and also made “major changes” to its supply chain, which allows for shipping across the country. With those advancements, “We no longer have a need for a brewing facility on the East Coast.”

Humm spent four years and more than $4 million creating a process that keeps the alcohol content in its drinks stable, Danek told The Bulletin last year. Rolled out in April 2018, the process is a potential competitive advantage in the kombucha industry, where keeping the fermented tea drinks at less than 0.5% alcohol by volume and avoiding alcoholic beverage taxes is a challenge.

In 2018, Humm was one of the top five kombucha brands with distribution to major chains including Walmart and Costco.

A Roanoke city official relayed Monday to the City Council that Humm was also facing market challenges, according to The Roanoke Times, but Ledger said that wasn’t substantiated.

Humm agreed in late 2017 to buy 12 acres from Roanoke and build a $10 million, 100,000-square-foot production facility. The company held the deed, but under the economic development agreement didn’t make any payments for the land, Ledger said. The city had agreed to forgive the $943,400 purchase price over five years of Humm’s occupancy, he said.

Humm follows Deschutes Brewery in pulling the plug on East Coast expansion.

— Reporter: 541-617-7860, kmclaughlin@bendbulletin.com