Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Asheville-born kombucha brewer, private label company moves into TRU Colors’ facility

FedUp Foods manufacturing is taking over TRU Colors Brewing facility on Greenfield Street. (Port City Daily/File)

WILMINGTON — Brewing will still be at the forefront of business in a warehouse on Greenfield Street — only it will be focused on a different sipper.

FedUp Foods, founded in Asheville, is taking over the former TRU Colors Brewery facility to bring kombucha and other products to the area to ship to locations worldwide. FedUp produces health-conscious beverages, such as prebiotic and probiotic sodas, tepache — a sparkling beverage fermented from pineapple rinds and peels — and cold brew coffee.

One of the largest private manufacturing platforms focused on fermented beverages in North America, the 715 Greenfield St. location is the third FedUp has on the East Coast, according to a release from the Wilmington Chamber and Wilmington Business Development on Monday. Other locations are in North Carolina and Tennessee.

“This strategic move positions the company for unprecedented growth and underscores their dedication to leading the industry in fermented functional beverages,” the release states.

Wilmington was chosen due to its accessibility to rail and the port.

FedUP Foods was founded in 2008 by Jeannine Buscher and Sarah Mullins, where the two started brewing kombucha in 5-gallon jars at home. They wanted healthier drinks for their kids but also often gifted the drinks to friends, before selling its Buchi at farmers market. It led to the creation of an empire that focuses on sustainable private-label manufacturing in 2015.

Part of FedUp’s model focuses on environmentally conscious output. For instance, the company’s glass business is conducted by a domestic manufacturer, in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint by up to 85%. It also focuses on regenerative ingredients and includes partnerships with Fair Trade and organic farming. Their goal is to benefit the planet, while also having a positive social impact.
“In light of the evolving landscape within the food and beverage industry, particularly with grocers increasingly investing in private label offerings, we, as industry leaders, are committed partners in meeting the rising demand for high-quality, good-for-you beverages at an accessible price point, while also contributing positively to the communities and environment that make our business possible,” CEO David Gray explained in a press release.
FedUp Foods remains independently owned and is hiring for its local opening. It hopes to be operational by the end of summer.

“As we extend our roots into Wilmington,” founder Mullins wrote in the release, “our aim is to offer job advancement and opportunities for the local workforce, contributing to the economic well-being of the area, as we have successfully done in the Asheville area over the past 15 years.”

Positions are open here, with the goal to bring roughly 100 jobs to the community.
“Wilmington has worked hard to position itself as an ideal place to grow a business,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said in a statement. “Employers value our investments in workforce and infrastructure development, and employees enjoy our high quality of life. It’s a recipe for economic success that is paying off and I look forward to the FedUp Foods team being part of that success story.”

TRU Colors, founded by George Taylor II, shuttered in fall 2022. It was mired in controversy after a shooting took place in the COO’s home by alleged gang members. The brewery hired active gang members, with the hope that providing adequate income and work and life training, as well as strengthening ties socially, would bring down violent crime rates community wide.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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