After months of rumours and gossip, smoothie maker and darling of the ethical business community Innocent has finally confirmed it has sold a 20% stake to drinks behemoth Coca-Cola.
Back in March when the two companies were originally reported to be in talks, Smarta editor Matt wrote a column expressing his worries Innocent might be selling out: it’s a highly controversial choice of investor for a business whose very name seemed to wag an accusatory finger at the global drinks conglomerate.
In a statement Richard Reed, one of the company’s co-founders, was keen to emphasise the nominal size of the investment. “We’re excited by this minority investment as it enables us to do more of what we are here to do,” he said.
On the one hand, we can understand why Coca-Cola might be the right choice for investment: as one of the few companies in the sector with the means and the inclination to provide finance for the sort of growth Innocent hopes for, as Reed put it, ‘they can help us get our products out to more people in more places’.
On the other hand, though, it’s difficult to forgive a business which built itself so heavily on its ethical values for taking investment from a company which has been accused of, among other things, gross human rights violations.
We'll reserve judgement until we see how the deal pans out, but consider our concerns voiced. We sincerely hope the time hasn’t come for that Innocent halo to come off.