- The Coca-Cola Company will cut back on U.S. distribution of its Aha Sparkling Water products, a company spokesperson told Food Dive. In 2024, the beverages will only be available in “focused channels” and in Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, and will continue to be sold in Canada, it said.
- The company said the decision follows its strategy to realign its portfolio based on consumer preferences, and that it sees potential for growth in the sparkling water category with its premium brand, Topo Chico.
- Aha, which Coca-Cola launched in March 2020 to compete with brands like LaCroix and PepsiCo’s Bubly, was the beverage giant’s first major brand debut since 2006. It has suffered from declining sales since the first quarter of 2023, according to figures published by Beverage Digest.
Coca-Cola’s decision to nix Aha signals the difficulty of establishing a new brand in a crowded category even for the biggest player in the beverage space.
The Diet Coke and Sprite maker may have launched a new brand in the sparkling water space — which also includes Polar, Spindrift and Waterloo — too late. Aha was developed after its previous offering, Dasani Sparkling, failed to make a splash and was discontinued in 2019.
Upon Aha’s launch, Coca-Cola debuted eight flavors of the sparkling water, including two containing caffeine. The Atlanta-based company invested heavily in a marketing campaign for Aha in 2021 and 2022. As of early this year six flavors of Aha were sold, including Lime + Watermelon and Blueberry + Passionfruit.
Aha sales dropped abruptly this year after the caffeinated offerings were discontinued and grocery chain Publix delisted the brand. Sales fell 42% in the first quarter of 2023, according to Beverage Digest.
LaCroix remains the leader in the sparkling water space, with 14% of category sales in the first quarter, according to the outlet. Bubly, launched by Coca-Cola rival PepsiCo in 2017, held 7.5%, while Aha only had 1.9% of sales in the space, Beverage Digest said.
The potential Coca-Cola currently sees in Topo Chico, an established mineral water brand which it acquired for $220 million in 2017, comes as premium beverage products continue to gain steam. Last year, it launched a collaborative product with alcohol giant Molson Coors, Topo Chico Hard Seltzer. In April, Coca-Cola debuted Topo Chico Sabores, a fruit juice and herbal extract-infused premium sparkling water, in three flavors.
Dan White, the beverage giant’s chief of new revenue streams, told Food Dive earlier this year the company believes the Mexican sparkling water brand is “on the trajectory” to reach $1 billion in annual sales, but did not give an exact timeframe.