PepsiCo has bought a controlling stake in South Beach Beverage Company, producer of the SoBe non-carbonated herbal drinks range, just days after a deal with rival Coca-Cola fell through. Following Cadbury's recent purchase of Snapple, the market leader in the new age drinks market, Coke had expressed interest in SoBe, which has seen sales rocket from $2.4m in 1996 to an estimated $225m this year. The brand entered the UK market in April and now retails at Sainsbury's. The New Age drinks market is worth an estimated $8.6bn a year and SoBe is its fastest growing brand. Details of the deal have not been disclosed but SoBe has an assumed market value of about $250m. Pepsi has responded to concerns that bringing SoBe into the mainstream would compromise its wacky alternative image with promises to "give SoBe the freedom and autonomy to preserve its unique culture, plus direct access to the advantages of the larger Pepsi-Cola system". SoBe chief executive John Bello will continue to head the firm, which will operate as a separate unit. SoBe products include fruit blends, energy drinks, herbal based beverages and dairy drinks with names like Power, Wisdom, Drive and Adrenalin Rush. {{NEWS }}