Greg Steltenpohl, Pioneer in Plant-Based mostly Drinks, Dies at 67

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“Steve inspired him to assume exterior the field and to have a look at the second as one among a possibility for innovation and progressive pondering and never as a defeat,” Eli Steltenpohl mentioned. “That actually gave my dad some crucial hearth to drag by way of.”

Odwalla by no means absolutely recovered. With the corporate on the verge of chapter, its founders had been compelled to promote a controlling curiosity to non-public fairness companies.

The Coca-Cola Firm acquired Odwalla in 2001 for $181 million, then shut it down final yr. In doing so, Coke cited a necessity for company efficiencies and a shopper choice for much less sugary drinks, although Mr. Steltenpohl had informed The Occasions in 2016 that Coke by no means maximized the potential of the model.

“This isn’t what my dad envisioned for Odwalla,” his son mentioned. “However that made the success of Califia that a lot sweeter.”

In 2010, Mr. Steltenpohl was planning to begin one other juice firm, however he switched gears when he noticed the approaching wave of nondairy milk alternate options constructed from nuts, coconut, oats and soy. Whereas he was recovering from his liver transplant surgical procedure, the hospital gave him a protein drink; he discovered it so distasteful, he informed The Occasions in 2016, that he was impressed to do higher, and he was quickly churning out premium almond milk, ready-to-drink coffees and barista blends.

He named the brand new firm for Queen Califia, a personality in a Sixteenth-century Spanish novel who grew to become the spirit of colonial California. Having discovered laborious classes from Odwalla, he insisted on tight high quality management, much less sugar and extra diet, and on maintaining an impartial ethos. By 2017, Califia’s bottled espresso was No. 1 in the US.

Greg Andrew Steltenpohl was born on Oct. 20, 1954, in Homestead, Fla. His mom, Benita (Desjardins) Steltenpohl, was a culinary entrepreneur and chef. His father, Jerome, was a civil engineer who moved the household within the Nineteen Fifties to Southern California, the place he labored for protection contractors. Greg grew up within the San Bernardino space.

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